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Food Safety Remains on GAO’s ‘High-Risk’ List

Food safety remains on the Government Accountability Office’s “high-risk” list, according to an update put out by the agency Thursday.

As GAO noted in its report, the U.S. government is the “world’s largest and most complex entity” that runs an incredibly diverse range of programs, so the agency uses its high-risk list to draw attention to the areas that need the most work.

“Solutions to high-risk problems offer the potential to save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen the performance and accountability of the U.S. government,” says GAO.

In February 2011, the agency identified 30 high-risk areas, including federal oversight of food safety. This month, two years later, only two items have improved enough, according to GAO, to move off that list: management of interagency contracting and the Internal Revenue Service business systems modernization.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a longtime advocate for stronger federal food safety regulation, put out a statement reacting to the report.

“Given the sheer number of foodborne illnesses and outbreaks, it is no surprise that federal oversight of food safety continues to be included on the GAO’s list of high risk areas,” said DeLauro. “You need to look no further than the current Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 18 people in five states to know that food safety deserves to be on this list and it is time for Congress to act. Since the GAO first added food safety to its list of high-risk areas in 2007, it has highlighted the fragmented oversight of food safety and recommended the establishment of a government-wide plan to address this critical problem. That plan remains elusive.

The congresswoman added that she believes food safety is coordinated between too many agencies and should be reorganized into a single entity.

“Right now there is not one single person in charge and that puts us all at risk of getting sick from preventable illnesses,” said DeLauro, who said she will reintroduce a bill to establish a single food safety agency, which “would ensure that there is one person the public can hold accountable when outbreaks occur.”

Food safety oversight remains on the high-risk list along with items like enforcing tax laws, restructuring the United States Postal Service, and transforming the Environmental Protection Agency’s process for assessing and controlling toxic chemicals.

The GAO also added two items to the high-risk list: limiting the federal government’s fiscal exposure by better managing climate change risks and mitigating gaps in weather satellite data.

© Food Safety News
  • Oginikwe

    Well, this can’t be correct . . .according to the industry trolls on this site, we have the safest food system in the world. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1342249996 Christopher Schaefer

    Today
    [3/30/13] Rosa DeLauro was kind enough to publish a link re. the latest food
    recall issued by the USDA—and accompanied it with a dire warning re. the
    disastrous health consequences if any cuts are made at the USDA. Now,
    here’s a link that DeLauro would prefer you NOT see. Take a look on the
    USDA’s main website—specifically its innumerable offices and agencies: http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navtype=MA&navid=AGENCIES_OFFICES_C
    I counted SEVENTEEN individual agencies and SEVENTEEN different
    offices. You mean to tell me there’s absolutely no fat to trim here?!
    Oh, but the story gets better: DeLauro is a senior member of the
    subcommittee responsible for funding the USDA! Thus DeLauro’s dire
    warnings are merely a front for how this game REALLY works: cutting
    unnecessary USDA jobs means cutting a prime source of DeLauro’s
    re-election campaign donors. In DeLauro-land the govt. employs as many
    people as possible and these grateful employees reward DeLauro with
    campaign donations. DeLauro then returns the favor by creating even more
    govt. jobs. And the cycle repeats. How long will Connecticut 3rd
    district voters continue to fall for this self-serving nonsense? DeLauro
    is very clever as a politician—but utterly worthless as a legislator.
    Is it any wonder then, that after 22 years in office NOT ONE bill that
    DeLauro has sponsored has been made into law: https://www.opencongress.org/people/bills/400103_Rosa_DeLauro
    And this has been the case regardless of whether Democrats or
    Republicans held the majority in the House. Your tax dollars at work??