Breaking News: A Final Look at the Top 10 of 2022

Breaking News: A Final Look at the Top 10 of 2022


With just a few hours left, it’s time to reflect on the important events and food security trends of 2022. Although Food Safety News stories are the source of much of what was important during the year, we like to think that our approach is more meaningful than the “top stories” approach. So, with time running out, let’s start by taking a look at some of the news from the past year.

No. 1 – Chaos Theory
It was the year that seemed to prove what many have long suspected. Food safety is not organized and doesn’t get much respect. Dr. Robert Califf had to go hat in hand to Senate Republicans to get the votes he needed to be confirmed as FDA commissioner. The infant formula shortage hit as he took over from the FDA, seemingly unaware of what was happening at the critical Sturgis, MI plant operated by Abbott Nutrition. If the media’s questions about all this weren’t enough, they quickly expanded to investigative reports and consumer groups raising questions about the FDA’s repeated failures to meet its food safety obligations. The FDA commissioner then brought in an external-internal foundation to investigate the issues. This review essentially found that the critics were right about the “F” in the Food and Drug Administration problem and left Califf with potential solutions. He ended the year in silence on his options and so far nothing has changed.

#2- Launch Failed
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry was tasked with reviewing the nomination of Jose Emilio Esteban for the position of USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety on November 11, 2021, but granted him a hearing until September 22, 2022.

This 311-day delay is inexcusable and is the primary reason Undersecretary Esteban barely received confirmation before the Senate adjourned for the year. As the Senate-confirmed Undersecretary for Food Safety, Esteban is the most senior food safety official in the federal government.

And the position has been vacant for too long because of the irresponsibility of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where food security is not a priority.

No. 3- Epidemics continue
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 12 multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks (#12 being recorded yesterday), ranging from ground beef to strawberries, and the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation Network (CORE) of the Food and Drug Administration.surveyed 28 households.

Three of these FDA investigations remain open as of December 30. For 14 of the FDA investigations, a specific food source was not determined. The discrepancy between the CDC and FDA numbers is likely due to the fact that the CDC typically only issues outbreak advisories after a specific food source has been identified.

The CDC also serves as the primary investigative entity for multistate outbreaks only. For single-state outbreaks, state and local agencies are the investigators, with the CDC sometimes providing secondary assistance, which does not result in the federal agency issuing an outbreak advisory.

The different number of outbreaks reported by the FDA and the CDC may also be responsible for the fact that the FDA does not publicly report where outbreak patients live, so it is not possible for the public to say whether an outbreak involves more than one state. Presumably, the FDA shares this information with CDC outbreak investigators.

More details on the 2022 outbreaks are here.

No. 4 – Alleviation of worries
The 31st Annual Report on Pesticide Residues in Foods by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has allayed some concerns.

“In 2021, more than 99% of samples tested had residues below EPA-established tolerances, with 24.0% having no detectable residues,”according to the reportreleased on December 26.

Called the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), the testing program verified 10,127 samples in 2021. Of those samples, 94% were fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Fresh and processed fruits and vegetables tested in 2021 were: blueberries (fresh and frozen), broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, grape juice, green beans, peaches (fresh and frozen), pears, plums, summer squash, sweet peppers, tangerines, watermelon and winter squash.

Corn kernels and butter were also tested in 2021, representing 4.1% and 1.7% respectively of the samples taken in 2021.

National samples accounted for 67.8 percent of the samples, while 30.8 percent were imported, 0.9 percent were of mixed nationality o

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Written by EricMbadinga

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