December 31, 2009

The issue of food safety was the biggest food story of the year, according to an annual year-end survey commissioned by Hunter Public Relations. 

Hunter PR enlisted independent market research firm Wakefield to survey 1,000 American adults about the most memorable food story of 2009. Food safety came out top – followed by increased demand at food banks, and rapidly cut levels of consumer food spending, reports

Stories about food-safety concerns were ubiquitous in the U.S. in 2009. As the year progressed, the high-profile salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products was followed by other outbreaks – in cookie dough, green onions and baby food for example. The ongoing salmonella issue triggered questions about how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) handled the situation, and whether it had the tools to deal with it. 

It all came to a head when 10 food industry representative bodies, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the American Frozen Foods Institute, appealed to Congress to overhaul the U.S. food safety system – or risk losing America’s reputation for safe, high-quality food supplies. 

Since then, the Food Safety Enhancement Act passed the House in July, and the Food Safety Modernization Act is currently awaiting a full Senate hearing after the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee gave the bill its approval last month. If passed, the bill would require food companies to submit detailed food-safety plans, and give FDA the power to order product recalls and greater access to company records. 

Other stories making the top 10 most memorable food news events of 2009 included the pork industry's battle with H1N1 flu concerns, health experts’ soda tax proposals, and Michelle Obama’s healthy eating agenda.