Examining Federal Policy Options to Strengthen and Modernize America's Food Safety System
June 6, 2008
Jessamy Taylor, MPP
There is general consensus that the current food safety system has significant gaps that need to be addressed to prevent further food contaminant outbreaks and the food borne illnesses and deaths they cause. Federal regulation of the food supply is spread across 15 agencies that collectively administer over 30 food safety laws. The fragmented nature of federal oversight creates significant effectiveness and efficiency challenges to such an extent that the Government Accountability Office in 2007 added federal oversight of food safety to its list of high-risk programs in need of urgent attention. This session provided an opportunity to explore how a science-based, prevention-oriented food safety system might be created for both domestically produced and imported foods. It began with a background presentation on the current distribution of federal food safety authorities and resources across the two agencies primarily responsible for food regulation: the Food and Drug Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food Safety and Inspection Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Representatives from these agencies, industry, academia, and consumers commented on legislative proposals to strengthen and modernize the food safety system and offered their perspectives on how to improve federal food safety oversight.
Michael R. Taylor, JD, Research Professor of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University; David W. K. Acheson, MD, FRCP, Associate Commissioner for Foods, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Richard A. Raymond, MD, Under Secretary, Office of Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Robert E. Brackett, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Regulatory Officer, Grocery Manufacturers Association; Caroline Smith DeWaal, JD, Director of Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Slides from the presentation by Mr. Taylor are available for download.
- Institute of Medicine, Ensuring Safe Food From Production to Consumption, January 1998
- Food and Drug Administration, “Food Protection Plan: An Integrated Strategy for Protecting the Nation’s Food Supply,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, November 2007
- Robin Strongin, “How Vulnerable is the Nation’s Food Supply? Linking Food Safety and Food Security,” National Health Policy Forum, Issue Brief 773, May 17, 2002
- Geoffrey S. Becker and Donna V. Porter, “The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer,” Congressional Research Service, Order Code RS22600, June 18, 2007
- U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), “Federal Oversight of Food Safety: FDA Has Provided Few Details on the Resources and Strategies Needed to Implement its Food Protection Plan,” testimony, June 12, 2008
- GAO, “Federal Oversight of Food Safety: FDA’s Food Protection Plan Proposes Positive First Steps, but Capacity to Carry Them Out is Critical,” testimony, January 29, 2008