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Highlights

In fiscal year 2007, more than 150 million cattle, sheep, and other animals destined for human consumption were slaughtered in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), which mandates that animals are handled and slaughtered humanely. GAO reported on USDA's efforts to enforce HMSA in 2004 (Humane Methods of Slaughter Act: USDA Has Addressed Some Problems but Still Faces Enforcement Challenges, GAO-04-247). More broadly, GAO has also issued many reports that address federal oversight of the U.S. food safety system. This testimony focuses on (1) GAO's 2004 report on the frequency and scope of reported HMSA violations and enforcement actions by USDA, (2) information on trends in staffing and funding for USDA food inspections, and (3) information on overall federal oversight of food safety. To provide this new information, GAO analyzed personnel and funding data from USDA and the Office of Management and Budget, and interviewed USDA food safety inspection officials.

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