Globalization Cause Of Recent Food Poisoning?

Aug 07, 2013 02:16 PM EDT | By Dina Exil

Two recent cases this month involving food poisoning, are raising concerns about food safety, and the globalization of the food supply, according to The Nation

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks linked to imported food have been on the rise since the late 1990s. Fonterra and Taylor Farms, are two companies involved in recent food safety scandals. Both corporations supply products to food companies worldwide. 

According to Jaydee Hanson, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit U.S. advocacy group, cases like the Taylor Farms situation is becoming more common. 

"The workers may have gone to work ill, as they have no other choice, and the workers probably lack adequate field sanitation," Hanson said.

The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday, that a salad mix shipped by Taylor Farms de Mexico was responsible for a Cyclospora outbreak. The company had to recalled baby spinach in February for possible E. coli contamination, and has recalled produce over the last two years. 

New-Zealand based Fonterra announced it supplied whey protein to food supplier, that may contain bacteria that causes a severe and sometimes deadly food poisoning. The bacteria caused several communities to recall some of Fonterra. 

According to the Nation, these incidents highlight how the combination of weak regulations and globalization introduce bacteria to new environments.

"When dealing with a parasite from a tropical country that is unknown to most medical professionals in the US, you have in a nutshell one of the real challenges of global food shipments," Hanson said. "America doctors are not prepared for these situations. The real issue here is: what are [companies] doing to keep the product free of pathogens in the first place?"

Retired FDA official, William Hubbard, told The Nation that although the food safety standards more better than other nations, the FDA is underfunded and understaffed, which can prevent the proper enforcement of regulations. 

International food safety regulations are governed by a body of law called the Codex Alimentarius, a set of guidelines developed in 1961 by the United Nations. According to The Nation, the standards endorsed by the Codex have been incorporated into other treaties.  

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