Food Safety:

A Unified, Risk-Based System Needed to Enhance Food Safety

T-RCED-94-71: Published: Nov 4, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 4, 1993.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO discussed the federal food safety system and whether it should be revised. GAO noted that: (1) the existing food safety system costs $1 billion annually and does not effectively protect the public from foodborne illnesses; (2) system development has been piecemeal in response to specific health threats from particular food products and has not responded to changing health risks; (3) food safety improvements have been hampered by inflexible and outdated inspection methods, inconsistent oversight and enforcement authorities, inefficient use of resources, and ineffective coordination; (4) visual inspection methods do not detect microbial contamination in meat and poultry; (5) fundamental legislative and structural changes are needed to improve the food safety system, since regulatory agencies operate under different regulatory approaches; (6) the creation of a single food safety agency responsible for administering a uniform set of laws is the most effective way to deal with long-standing problems and emerging food safety issues and ensure a safe food supply; (7) a single regulatory agency will increase efficiency, consistently treat food products that pose similar health risks, target resources to areas of greatest need, and reduce costs; (8) the National Performance Review recommends that all food safety functions be transferred to the Food and Drug Administration; and (9) the success of a single regulatory agency will depend on a clear commitment to consumer protection, adequate resources, competent and aggressive administration of the law, and the absence of conflicting interests.

Sep 16, 2020

Sep 14, 2020

Aug 10, 2020

May 7, 2020

Apr 13, 2020

Dec 23, 2019

Dec 6, 2019

Nov 12, 2019

Oct 28, 2019

Sep 9, 2019

Looking for more? Browse all our products here