New-Hampshire_406x250There are “systemic inadequacies” in New Hampshire’s food safety programs, according to a report released by the state’s Office of Legislative Budget Assistant. The office conducted a performance audit of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Food Protection Section (FPS), to determine how efficient and effective the section was in preventing foodborne illness during state fiscal years 2013 and 2014. The department limited food safety inspections to accredited establishments, leaving other segments of the public food supply insufficiently regulated or unregulated, the report found. “During the audit period, FPS inspections of establishments decreased, and complaints and the percent of follow-up inspections increased, indicating increases in deficient food establishments,” read the report. Nearly 18 percent of New Hampshire food establishments weren’t inspected during 2013-2014, the report noted. The analysis also found that of the 474 highest-risk licensed food establishments, the average number of days since the last inspection was 427. One establishment hadn’t been inspected for more than 14 years. The Office of Legislative Budget Assistant stated that during 2014, the department’s failures resulted in the loss of 600 inspections to administrative tasks and the inefficient spending of nearly $48,500. The state Department of Health and Human Services agreed with many of the audit’s 29 recommendations, including one that the legislature consider repealing statutes affecting Inspectors, Sanitary Production, Licensure, Cold Storage, Pure Food, and Dairy and replacing them with a streamlined, comprehensive food safety statute. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)