Federal Oversight of Food Safety: High-Risk Designation Can Bring Needed Attention to Fragmented System

GAO-07-449T Published: Feb 08, 2007. Publicly Released: Feb 08, 2007.
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Each year, about 76 million people contract a foodborne illness in the United States; about 325,000 require hospitalization; and about 5,000 die. While the recent E. coli outbreaks highlighted the risks posed by accidental contamination, the attacks of September 11, 2001, heightened awareness that the food supply could also be vulnerable to deliberate contamination. This testimony focuses on the (1) role that GAO's high-risk series can play in raising the priority and visibility of the need to transform federal oversight of food safety, (2) fragmented nature of federal oversight of food safety, and (3) need to address federal oversight of food safety as a 21st century challenge. This work is based on previously issued reports.

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