As Food Imports Rise, So Do Safety Concerns
Americans rely heavily on imported food — the U.S. now imports nearly 85 percent of its fish consumption, and fruit and vegetable imports have doubled since 1998. Even products made in the United States may contain foreign products, such as Chinese wheat gluten or Mexican green onions. And while many countries enforce safety standards equal to those used in the U.S., newly industrialized or industrializing nations may not have the resources or infrastructure to meet safety and quality benchmarks.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot pick up the slack. The FDA reports that, due to its own lack of resources, 99 percent of the imports that enter the U.S. are not inspected.
Experts agree that prevention, not inspection, will best ensure food safety. One life sciences company, Global Food Technologies, Inc., has developed an organic processing method that ensures that foods do not become contaminated during processing or packaging. By destroying the microbes in the food without harmful chemicals, the company achieves higher safety standards than the minimum required by law. The processing method, designated by the iPura brand name, is currently being used to produce seafood in several overseas nations. Any product bearing the iPura label is guaranteed to be a result of its comprehensive Source-to-Retail food safety program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 325,000 Americans are hospitalized and 5,000 die annually from foodborne illness. A food company that does not adhere to food safety practices will eventually be driven out of business, a fact that tends to encourage good practices and results in a relatively safe food supply. Yet, reports of new outbreaks continually surface, indicating that more work must be done to safeguard the food supply.