Every year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick and 3,000 die from food they eat. However, the trend suggests that food safety problems will still be around us for some time.
Government actions regarding food safety
To combat this, Democratic President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, the most significant reform in more than 70 years. The Food Safety Modernization Act set new standards for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables, inspections for domestic and foreign food production and mandatory recalls. Because the changes required so many new products and procedures — the government gave small businesses years to comply. The law also shifted policing of U.S. food from 15 different federal agencies to the Food and Drug Administration, is now monitoring more than 80 percent of the supply, and the Department of Agriculture, which handles most of the rest. The U.S. hardly has the most insecure food supply. It’s shown by the fact that outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that were found in multiple U.S. states each year has been increasing.
Improvements through technology
Big food sellers are making safety improvements on their own. The discount warehouse store Costco Wholesale Corp., for example, now conducts random testing of high-risk food products such as cantaloupe; Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is experimenting with blockchain to keep track of exactly where its products come from. Skeptics say that all these efforts might only put a small dent in the number of people sickened each year since the Food Safety Modernization Act doesn’t regulate how food is handled once it arrives at restaurants and other food service sites. Those places are the primary sources of norovirus outbreaks, which cause more than half of all foodborne illness in the United States. Therefore, a more comprehensive improvement in food safety practices, especially at restaurants and other food service sites is needed.