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Our food is safer then ever

April 18, 2013 | 0 comments

A commentary by Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Summertime is almost upon us. For most Americans, the warmer weather brings picnics in the park, BBQs and grilling out with family and friends. It also brings the increased chance for foodborne illness to occur if safe food preparation and handling is not given full attention.

Because food safety is such an important issue to farmers, we've worked hard to ensure that the food that reaches your table is safe.

Thanks to voluntary farmer-led initiatives, strict government monitoring and consumer food safety education, foodborne illness has dropped drastically in the last 100 years.

Not Just Lip Service

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, our food is safer than ever. The number of foodborne disease outbreaks in 2009-10 declined 32 percent compared with the preceding five years.

Some of the credit for this can be attributed to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011. This law aims to cooperatively improve food safety by building on existing systems already in place in the private sector.

Before the FSMA was passed, approximately 72 million Americans fell sick due to a foodborne illness every year.

Within a week after the FSMA was signed into law, those numbers were adjusted to 48 million. Significantly, foodborne illnesses now only touch 9.4 million people yearly.

Farmers take seriously their responsibility of growing safe food and that's not just lip service.

Farmers have the same desire as other consumers to have a safe, abundant and affordable food supply. And they also have an important economic interest because the demand for their products is determined by consumer confidence.


from the Rooftop

Many people don't realize that there are five federal agencies that administer at least 30 laws related to food safety. Through this intense federal oversight, the level of food safety testing has also dramatically increased. And, just as important, consumer education on food safety is on the uptick.

Even though contamination of food can occur at any stage in food production, a high level of foodborne illness is caused by foods improperly prepared or mishandled at home or in restaurants.

To counter this, Farm Bureaus across the country are educating consumers to enhance their food safety knowledge. And it's working.

According to Dr. Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for food safety at the Agriculture Department, the CDC report is cause for celebration.

"You should be able to stand on top of the building and say 'hey look, (the agriculture) industry is doing a great job, consumers are doing a great job of listening to the safe handling and proper cooking messages…and restaurants and other people that cook our food are doing a better job.'"

So, go on and enjoy your burgers and chops, deviled eggs and fresh salad this summer knowing that your food is safer than ever. And, maybe even have a steak for me while you're at it.

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