Trust For America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released a report on improving food safety, and one of the chief problems they identify with the current system is a lack of centralized food-safety authority:
The report calls for the immediate consolidation of food safety leadership within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and ultimately the creation of a separate Food Safety Administration within HHS. Currently, no FDA official whose full-time job is food safety has line authority over all food safety functions. A speedy effort by the Obama administration to consolidate leadership within FDA, followed by Congressional action to create a separate Food Safety Administration, would both ensure immediate progress on food safety and create a platform for long-term success in reducing foodborne illness.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has already been pushing for the creation of a separate food safety agency within HHS, so this proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following food-safety issues.
Here are the top recommendations from Keeping America’s Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Increasing and aligning resources with the highest-risk threats;
- Modernizing the mandate and legal authority of the HHS Secretary to prevent illness, which would include enforcing the duty of food companies to implement modern preventive controls and meet government-established food safety performance standards;
- Immediately establishing a Deputy Commissioner at FDA with line authority over all food safety programs, including the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and the food functions of the Office of Regulatory Affairs, as an interim step toward creating a Food Safety Administration; and
- Working through Congress toward the creation of a Food Safety Administration within HHS, strategically aligning and elevating the food safety functions currently housed at FDA and better coordinating regulation policies and practices with the surveillance and detection of outbreak functions at CDC and with food safety agencies at the state and local level.
Check out the complete report here.