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Report: Food safety a growing problem

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its annual report on Household Food Security in the U.S., which revealed that in 2008, 17 million households, or 14.6 percent, were food insecure and families had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year.

This is an increase from 13 million households, or 11.1 percent, in 2007. The 2008 figures represent the highest level observed since nationally representative food security surveys were initiated in 1995.

This year’s report also reveals that one-third of food insecure households had very low food security (food intake of some household members was reduced and their eating patterns disrupted at times during the year). This is 5.7 percent of all U.S. households, or about 6.7 million. This is up from 4.7 million households (4.1 percent) in 2007, and the highest level observed since nationally representative food security surveys were initiated in 1995.

Even when resources are inadequate to provide food for the entire family, children are usually shielded from the disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake that characterize very low food security. However, children as well as adults experienced instances of very low food security in 506,000 households (1.3 percent of households with children) in 2008, up from 323,000 households (0.8 percent of households with children) in 2007.

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