Food Safety and Quality:

Who Does What in the Federal Government

RCED-91-19A: Published: Dec 21, 1990. Publicly Released: Jan 22, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on federal agencies' efforts to ensure food safety and quality, focusing on: (1) statutory responsibilities, programs, activities, staffing, and budgets; (2) interagency agreements; (3) funding, staffing, and work-load changes; and (4) issues critical to future food safety and quality.

GAO found that: (1) of the 12 agencies involved in the federal food safety and quality regulatory system, the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Agricultural Marketing Service, Federal Grain Inspection Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service had major roles in carrying out food safety and quality activities; (2) those six agencies varied considerably in the amount of federal resources they devoted to food safety and quality activities; (3) in fiscal year (FY) 1989, the six agencies devoted over $800 million and almost 17,000 staff years to their food safety and quality activities; (4) 51 written interagency agreements among those agencies addressed potential problems in federal food safety and quality activities; (5) four agencies had fewer staff and funds available to carry out their food safety and quality activities in FY 1989 than in FY 1980, while they had larger work loads related to food safety and quality; (6) two agencies lacked data for their food safety and quality resources and work loads between FY 1980 and FY 1989; and (7) the six agencies agreed that microbiological contamination and pesticide and chemical contamination were critical future food safety and quality issues.

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