Food Safety: U.S. Needs a Single Agency to Administer a Unified, Risk-Based Inspection System

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-08-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                    United States General Accounting Office

GAO                 Testimony
                    Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government
                    Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia,
                    Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate

For Release
on Delivery
Expected at
                    FOOD SAFETY
10:30 a.m. EDT
August 4, 1999
                    U.S. Needs a Single Agency
                    to Administer a Unified,
                    Risk-Based Inspection
                    Statement of Lawrence J. Dyckman,
                    Director, Food and Agriculture Issues,
                    Resources, Community, and Economic Development

             Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

             We are pleased to be here today to discuss the need to revamp the federal
             food safety system. Each year, millions of people become ill and
             thousands die from eating unsafe foods. As we have stated in previous
             reports and testimonies, fundamental changes to the food safety system
             are needed, including moving to a uniform, risk-based inspection system,
             administered by a single agency. (See Related GAO Products.). My
             testimony today provides an overview of our work on the problems
             resulting from the current fragmented food safety system and discusses
             our views on where in the federal government food safety inspection
             responsibilities should reside.

             In summary, the structure of the current food safety system—which costs
             the federal treasury more than $1 billion annually—hampers efforts to
             address public health concerns associated with existing and newly
             identified food safety risks. The fragmented system was not developed
             under any rational plan but was patched together over many years to
             address specific health threats from particular food products. Efforts to
             address food safety concerns—particularly changing health risks—are
             hampered by inconsistent and inflexible oversight and enforcement
             authorities, inefficient resource use, and ineffective coordination.

             A single food safety inspection agency responsible for administering a
             uniform set of laws is the most effective way for the federal government to
             resolve these long-standing problems, deal with emerging food safety
             issues, and better ensure a safe food supply. While we believe that this
             would be the most effective approach, we recognize that there are short
             term costs and other considerations associated with setting up a new
             government agency. A second option, though less desirable, would be to
             consolidate food safety activities in an existing department. In such an
             event, consolidating these activities—either in the U.S. Department of
             Agriculture (USDA) or the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS)
             Food and Drug Administration—presents benefits and drawbacks.
             Regardless, it is unlikely that fundamental, long-lasting improvements in
             food safety will occur until food safety activities are consolidated under a
             single agency and the current patchwork of food safety legislation is
             altered to make it uniform and risk-based.

             Twelve different agencies administer as many as 35 laws that make up the
Background   federal food safety system. Two agencies account for most federal

             Page 1                                                     GAO/T-RCED-99-256
                       spending on, and regulatory responsibilities for, food safety: The Food
                       Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), under USDA, is responsible for the
                       safety of meat, poultry, and some eggs and some egg products, while FDA is
                       responsible for the safety of most other foods. Other agencies with food
                       safety responsibilities and/or programs include HHS’ Centers for Disease
                       Control and Prevention; USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Animal and
                       Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Research Service, and Grain
                       Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration; the Department of
                       Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service; the Department of the
                       Treasury’s U.S. Customs Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
                       Firearms; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the Federal
                       Trade Commission. Appendix I describes the food safety roles and
                       responsibilities of these 12 agencies and shows each agency’s food safety
                       funding and staffing level for fiscal year 1998.

                       Despite the more than $1 billion spent annually on the current food safety
                       system, food safety remains a concern. For example, in late 1998, 101
                       people became ill from eating hot dogs contaminated with listeria—a
                       pathogenic bacterium. Of those who became ill, 15 died and 6 suffered a
                       miscarriage or stillbirth. In May and June of this year, about 120 people
                       became ill in the Richmond, Virginia, area because they ate at a local
                       restaurant where some of the food contained eggs contaminated with the
                       pathogenic bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis. Because many cases of
                       foodborne illness go undiagnosed, estimates of the actual number of
                       incidents that occur nationally each year cover a wide range—from a low
                       of 6 million cases to a high of 33 million cases, leading to about 9,000
                       deaths annually, according to CDC. In medical costs and productivity
                       losses, foodborne illness costs the nation between $7 billion and
                       $37 billion per year, according to USDA estimates.

                       During the past 25 years, we and other organizations, such as the National
Current Federal Food   Academy of Sciences, have issued reports detailing problems with the
Safety System Needs    federal food safety system and made numerous recommendations for
Overhaul               change. While many of these recommendations have been acted upon,
                       improvement efforts have fallen short, largely because the separate
                       agencies continue to operate under the different regulatory approaches
                       implicit in their basic authorities. Consequently, it is unlikely that
                       fundamental, lasting improvements in food safety will occur until
                       systematic legislative and structural changes are made to the entire food
                       safety system.

                       Page 2                                                    GAO/T-RCED-99-256
    The federal regulatory system for food safety evolved haphazardly. As the
    understanding of foodborne hazards grew, food safety concerns changed.
    Addressing one new worry after another, legislators amended old laws and
    enacted new ones. Programs emerged piecemeal, typically in response to
    particular health threats or economic crises. The laws not only assigned
    specific food commodities to particular agencies but also provided the
    agencies with different authorities and responsibilities, reflecting
    significantly different regulatory approaches. The resulting inflexible and
    inconsistent oversight and enforcement authorities, inefficient resource
    use, and ineffective coordination efforts have hampered and continue to
    impede efforts to address the public health concerns associated with
    existing and newly identified food safety risks. The following examples
    represent some of the problems we have found in reviewing the nation’s
    food safety system:

•   Federal agencies are not using their inspection resources efficiently.
    Because the frequency of inspection is based on the agencies’ regulatory
    approach, some foods and establishments may be receiving too much
    attention while others may not be receiving enough. Firms that process
    food products posing similar health risks to the public are inspected at
    widely different frequencies, depending on which agency—and thus which
    regulatory approach—governs them. Although the level of health risk is
    similar for all animal products, meat and poultry plants regulated by FSIS
    are inspected at least daily, while firms that are under FDA’s jurisdiction
    such as, processors of rabbit, venison, and quail, are generally inspected,
    on average once every ten years. Furthermore, food establishments are
    sometimes inspected by more than one federal agency because they
    participate in programs or process foods that are under the jurisdiction of
    different agencies.
•   Responsibilities for the oversight of chemical residues in foods are
    fragmented among FDA, USDA, and EPA. As a result, chemicals posing similar
    risks may be treated differently by the agencies because they operate
    under different laws and regulations. Furthermore, the states use different
    methodologies for determining the amount of fish that can be safely
    consumed. For example, under the Clean Water Act, EPA is required only to
    consider risks to human health and aquatic life when conducting water
    quality assessments. However, under the Federal Food, Drug, and
    Cosmetic Act, FDA is allowed to consider both health risks and benefits in
    establishing tolerances for chemical contaminants in food. Therefore, as
    we reported in 1994,1 FDA standards for some chemicals are often less

      Food Safety: Changes Needed to Minimize Unsafe Chemicals in Food (GAO/RCED-94-192, Sept. 26,

    Page 3                                                                     GAO/T-RCED-99-256
    stringent than those developed by EPA. This inconsistency is often
    reflected in the methodology the states use to determine the levels of fish
    consumption considered safe. According to EPA officials as of 1998, about
    30 states use a methodology similar to EPA’s and about 20 states use a
    different methodology such as one similar to FDA’s.2 Thus a fish considered
    unsafe to eat in one state may become safe to eat if it swims to another
•   Enforcement authorities granted to the agencies also differ. USDA agencies
    have the authority to (1) require food processors to register so that they
    can be inspected, (2) presume that food firms are involved in interstate
    commerce and are thus subject to regulation, (3) prohibit the use of
    processing equipment that may potentially contaminate food products,
    and (4) temporarily detain any suspect foods. Conversely, FDA, without
    such authority, is often hindered in overseeing food processors.
•   Oversight of imported food is inconsistent and unreliable.3 To ensure the
    safety of meat and poultry imports, FSIS has a statutory mandate to require
    that each of the countries exporting meat and poultry to the United States
    demonstrate that it has a food safety system that is equivalent to the
    United States’ system. Under the equivalency requirement, FSIS has shifted
    most of the responsibility for ensuring product safety to the exporting
    country. The exporting country performs the primary inspection, allowing
    FSIS to leverage its resources by focusing its reviews on verifying the
    efficacy of the exporting countries’ systems. In contrast, FDA lacks the
    legal authority to require that countries exporting foods to the United
    States have food safety systems equivalent to ours. Without such authority
    FDA must rely primarily on its port-of-entry inspections, which covered less
    than 2 percent of shipments in 1997, to detect and bar unsafe foods. Such
    an approach has been widely discredited as resource-intensive and
•   Fragmented federal responsibilities also cause problems for the food
    industry because communication about health risks associated with
    contaminated food products is impaired. As we reported in April 1998,4
    nearly every day during May, June, and early July 1997, officials from FDA,
    FSIS, and the Environmental Protection Agency participated in conference
    calls to discuss the latest developments in the investigation of animal
    feeds contaminated with dioxin (a suspected carcinogen) to determine

     EPA officials stated that further review of the 20 states using a methodology different than EPA’s may
    reveal that some of them are actually using a methodology similar to EPA’s.
     Food Safety: Federal Efforts to Ensure the Safety of Imported Foods Are Inconsistent and Unreliable
    (GAO/RCED-98-103, Apr. 30, 1998).
     Food Safety: Agencies’ Handling of a Dioxin Incident Caused Hardships for Some Producers and
    Processors (GAO/RCED-98-104, Apr. 10, 1998).

    Page 4                                                                          GAO/T-RCED-99-256
    what actions, if any, the agencies needed to take to protect consumers.
    While FDA and FSIS worked together to make decisions on the preferred
    course of action, each agency was responsible for communicating its
    decisions to the producers or processors under its jurisdiction. However,
    complete information was not communicated to all affected parties. For
    example, when officials from FDA, the agency responsible for regulating
    animal feed, met with meat and poultry producers, their primary concern
    was with the contaminated feed, not with the animals that had consumed
    it. Thus, they did not necessarily tell these producers of the actions they
    should take for their affected animals. FSIS, the agency responsible for
    regulating meat and poultry processors, sent word of the testing
    requirements to meat and poultry processors and to trade associations,
    but it did not notify meat and poultry producers. FSIS has jurisdiction over
    processing plants, but not producers.
•   The agencies have made attempts to coordinate their activities to
    overcome the fragmentation and avoid duplication or gaps in coverage,
    but history has shown that as time passes, such efforts frequently prove to
    be ineffective. We have reported in the past that unsafe conditions in food
    processing plants have gone unaddressed because the notifications
    required by coordination agreements do not always take place or the
    problems referred to the responsible agency are not promptly
    investigated.5 As we testified before this Subcommittee last month, egg
    safety remains questionable, despite FSIS’ and FDA’s efforts to coordinate
    their activities on egg and egg product safety—a shared responsibility
    between the two agencies.6 In 1991, an amendment to the Egg Products
    Inspection Act mandated that federal regulations be issued requiring the
    refrigeration of shell eggs. Eight years later, FSIS regulations, effective
    August 27, 1999, set refrigeration requirements for eggs from the packing
    plant through transportation to the retail level. However, FDA, which has
    responsibility for egg safety at the retail level has not enacted similar
    regulations; therefore, refrigerating eggs at the retail level is not yet

    These problems, which apply to many food products, are clearly
    illustrated in the regulation of pizza. Figure 1 shows the federal

     Food Safety and Quality: Uniform, Risk-Based Inspection System Needed to Ensure Safe Food Supply
    (GAO/RCED-92-152, June 26, 1992).
     Food Safety: U.S. Lacks a Consistent Farm-to-Table Approach to Egg Safety (GAO/RCED-99-184,
    July 1, 1999).
     On July 1, 1999, FDA announced proposed regulations for ensuring the safety of eggs that contained,
    among other things, refrigeration requirements for eggs at the retail level.

    Page 5                                                                         GAO/T-RCED-99-256
                                            responsibilities for ensuring the safety of a frozen meat pizza and a frozen
                                            cheese pizza.

Figure 1: Federal Agencies Responsible for Ensuring Safe Pizza

1. Inputs                                             AMS                                Animal
                         EPA      Chemicals                      Seed           FDA
                                                     APHIS                                Feed

2. On-Farm              APHIS                         AMS
                         EPA                         APHIS                     APHIS     Cows,
                                    Wheat                     Tomatoes
                         FDA                          EPA                       FDA      Hogs
                        GIPSA                         FDA

3. First-Level                                                                                                 Meat
   Processing                                        AMS         Tomato         AMS
                         FDA        Flour                                                Cheese      FSIS      (e.g.,
                                                     FDA         Sauce          FDA

4. Second-Level                               Frozen Pizza                     Frozen Pizza
   Processing                       FDA       Manufacturer-             FSIS   Manufacturer-
                                              Cheese Pizza                      Meat Pizza

5. Retail-Level/

                                            The most effective solution to the current fragmentation of the federal
A Single Agency                             food safety system is consolidating food safety programs under a single
Would Enhance Food                          agency with uniform authority. Consolidating food safety activities is
Safety                                      hardly a new concept. Such a concept was debated in 1972 in connection
                                            with a proposed bill to transfer FDA’s responsibilities, including its food
                                            safety activities, to a new independent agency, called the Consumer Safety
                                            Agency. This new agency was to be responsible for, among other things,
                                            ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply, although meat and poultry
                                            inspection was to remain in USDA.

                                            Page 6                                                      GAO/T-RCED-99-256
Whether an independent single agency is preferable to a component of an
existing department, as we testified in 1972,8 is a matter of judgment upon
which opinions differ. However, we continue to believe, as we testified in
1994,9 that a single independent food safety agency administering a
unified, risk-based food safety system is the preferred approach, although
we recognize the difficulties in establishing a new government agency.
Regardless of where a single agency is housed, what is most important are
certain principles, including a clear commitment by the federal
government to consumer protection, a system that is founded on uniform
laws that are risk-based, adequate resources devoted to that purpose, and
competent and aggressive administration of the laws by the responsible
agency. Although these principles can be influenced by organizational
placement, commitment to them probably depends more on public and
political concern for the importance of the mission.

In this regard, we recently reported on the experiences of four countries
that have consolidated or are in the process of consolidating their food
safety responsibilities.10 Two of the four—Great Britain and Ireland—were
responding to heightened public concerns about the safety of their food
supplies and chose to consolidate responsibilities in the agencies that
report to their ministers of health. For example, the British plan to
consolidate food safety activities into a single agency was largely a result
of the government’s perceived mishandling of an outbreak of Bovine
Spongiform Encephalopathy (commonly referred to as “mad cow”
disease). Public opinion viewed the agriculture ministry, which had dual
responsibilities to promote agriculture and the food industry and to
regulate food safety, as slow to react because it was too concerned about
protecting the cattle industry.

The other two countries—Canada and Denmark—were more concerned
about program effectiveness and cost saving and accordingly consolidated
activities in agencies that report to their ministers of agriculture, who
already control most of the food safety resources. For example, Canada
did not face a loss of public confidence, as did Great Britain and Ireland,
but instead faced a budgetary crisis; it therefore sought ways to reduce
federal expenditures. By combining the various elements of its food

 Hearings on the Consumer Safety Act of 1972 before the Subcommittee on Executive Reorganization
and Government Research, Senate Committee on Government Operations (1972).
 Food Safety: A Unified, Risk-Based Food Safety System Needed (GAO/T-RCED-94-223, May 25, 1994).
 Food Safety: Experiences of Four Countries in Consolidating Their Food Safety Systems
(GAO/RCED-99-80, Apr. 20, 1999).

Page 7                                                                      GAO/T-RCED-99-256
    inspection services, Canada expected to save about 13 percent of its food
    inspection budget, or $44 million Canadian ($29 million U.S.) per year.

    We are not alone in calling for fundamental changes to the federal food
    safety system. In an August 1998 report, the National Academy of Sciences
    concluded that the current fragmented federal food safety structure is not
    well equipped to meet emerging challenges.11 As such, the Academy report
    recommended that the Congress establish, by statute, a unified and central
    framework for managing federal food safety programs, one that is headed
    by a single official and has the responsibility for, and control of, resources
    for all federal food safety activities, including outbreak management,
    standard-setting, inspection, monitoring, surveillance, risk assessment,
    enforcement, research, and education.

    According to the Academy report, many members of the committee
    believed that the most viable means of achieving food safety goals would
    be to create a single, unified agency headed by a single administrator—an
    agency that would incorporate the several relevant functions now
    dispersed, and in many instances separately organized, among three
    departments and a department-level agency. However, designing the
    structure and assessing the associated costs involved were not possible in
    the timeframe given the committee, nor were these tasks included in the
    committee’s charge. As such, the committee did not recommend a specific
    organizational structure but instead provided several possible
    configurations for illustrative purposes. These were

•   forming a Food Safety Council of representatives from the agencies, with a
    central chair appointed by the President, reporting to the Congress and
    having control of resources;
•   designating one current agency as the lead agency and making the head of
    that agency the responsible individual;
•   establishing a single agency reporting to one current cabinet-level
    secretary; and
•   establishing an independent single agency at the cabinet level.

    In response to the National Academy’s report, the President established a
    Council on Food Safety and directed it to provide him with an assessment
    of the Academy report within 180 days.12 The council was also charged

       Ensuring Safe Food From Production to Consumption (Institute of Medicine, National Research
    Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., Aug. 1998).
     The President’s Council on Food Safety comprises, among others, the Secretaries of Agriculture,
    Health and Human Services, and Commerce, and the Administrator of EPA.

    Page 8                                                                        GAO/T-RCED-99-256
                   with developing a comprehensive strategic plan for federal food safety
                   activities and making recommendations to the President on how to
                   implement the plan.

                   In its March 1999 report to the President,13 the Council agreed with the
                   goal of the Academy’s recommendation that there should be a fully
                   integrated food safety system and undertook to assess structural models
                   and other mechanisms that could strengthen the federal food safety
                   system through better coordination, planning, and resource allocation. In
                   its analysis, the council said it plans to determine whether certain models
                   of reorganization would have advantages for coordination and allocation
                   of resources while also considering how each agency’s responsibilities
                   that are not driven by food safety might affect food safety responsibilities.

                   To conclude, Mr. Chairman, as the United States prepares to enter a new
                   millenium, we believe the Congress has an opportunity to transform our
                   present food safety system into one that better protects consumers’ health.
                   Creating a single agency to administer food safety activities that are
                   uniform and risk-based is the most effective way for the federal
                   government to resolve long-standing problems, deal with emerging food
                   safety issues, and better ensure the safety of our country’s food supply.
                   This completes our prepared statement. We would be happy to respond to
                   any questions.

                   For future contacts regarding this testimony, please contact Lawrence J.
Contacts and       Dyckman at (202) 512-5138. Individuals making key contributions to this
Acknowledgements   testimony were Keith Oleson and John Nicholson.

                    President’s Council on Food Safety Assessment of the NAS Report: Ensuring Safe Food from
                   Production to Consumption, (President’s Council on Food Safety, Mar. 1999).

                   Page 9                                                                     GAO/T-RCED-99-256
Appendix I

Food Safety Responsibilities and Fiscal Year
1998 Funding and Staffing Levels at 12
Federal Agencies

Dollars in millions
                                                                                                               Fiscal year
                                                                                                                     1998 Fiscal year
Agency                                                                                                           fundinga 1998 staffing
Food and Drug Administration (FDA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is
responsible for ensuring that domestic and imported food products (except meat, poultry, and processed
egg products) are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as
amended, is the major law governing FDA’s activities to ensure food safety and quality. The act also
authorizes FDA to maintain a surveillance of all animal drugs, feeds, and veterinary devices to ensure that
drugs and feeds used in animals are safe and properly labeled, and produce no human health hazards
when used in food-producing animals.                                                                                $254b         2,796b
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), within HHS, is charged with protecting the nation’s
public health by providing leadership and direction in preventing and controlling diseases and
responding to public health emergencies. CDC conducts surveillance for foodborne diseases; develops
new epidemiological and laboratory tools to enhance the surveillance and detection of outbreaks; and
performs other activities to strengthen local, state, and national capacity to identify, characterize, and
control foodborne hazards. CDC engages in public health activities related to food safety under the
general authority of the Public Health Service Act, as amended.                                                        15            50
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is
responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and some eggs and egg products moving in interstate and
foreign commerce are safe, wholesome, and correctly marked, labeled, and packaged. FSIS carries out
its inspection responsibilities under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, as amended, the Poultry Products
Inspection Act, as amended, and the Egg Products Inspection Act, as amended.                                          676         9,702
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), within USDA, is responsible for ensuring the health
and care of animals and plants. APHIS has no statutory authority for public health issues unless the
concern to public health is also a concern to the health of animals or plants. APHIS identifies research
and data needs and coordinates research programs designed to protect the animal industry against
                                                                                                                         c             c
pathogens or diseases that are a risk to humans to improve food safety.
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), within USDA, is responsible for
establishing quality standards and providing for a national inspection system to facilitate the marketing of
grain and other related products. Certain inspection services, such as testing corn for the presence of
aflatoxin, enable the market to assess the value of a product on the basis of its compliance with
contractual specifications and FDA requirements. GIPSA has no regulatory responsibility regarding food
safety. Under a memorandum of understanding with FDA, GIPSA reports to FDA certain lots of grain, rice,
pulses, or food products (which were officially inspected as part of GIPSA’s service functions) that are
considered objectionable under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended, the U.S. Grain
                                                                                                                         c             c
Standards Act, as amended, and the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946, as amended.
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), within USDA, is primarily responsible for establishing the standards
of quality and condition and for grading the quality of dairy, egg, fruit, meat, poultry, seafood, and
vegetable products. As part of this grading process, AMS considers safety factors, such as the
cleanliness of the product. AMS carries out its wide array of programs to facilitate marketing under more
than 30 statutes—for example, the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended; the
Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as amended; the Egg Products Inspection Act, as amended; the
Export Apple and Pear Act, as amended; and the Export Grape and Plum Act, as amended. AMS is
largely funded with user fees.                                                                                         10d           42d
Agricultural Research Service (ARS), within USDA, is responsible for conducting a wide range of research
relating to the Department’s mission, including food safety research. ARS carries out its programs under
the Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1862; the Research and Marketing Act of 1946, as
amended; and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, as
amended.                                                                                                               55           167

                                               Page 10                                                              GAO/T-RCED-99-256
                                              Appendix I
                                              Food Safety Responsibilities and Fiscal Year
                                              1998 Funding and Staffing Levels at 12
                                              Federal Agencies

Dollars in millions
                                                                                                                          Fiscal year
                                                                                                                                1998 Fiscal year
Agency                                                                                                                      fundinga 1998 staffing
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), within the Department of Commerce, conducts its voluntary
seafood safety and quality inspection programs under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as
amended, and the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, as amended. In addition to the inspection and
certification services provided for fishery products for human consumption, NMFS provides inspection
and certification services for animal feeds and pet foods containing a fish base.                                                    13d           174d
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating all pesticide products sold or
distributed in the United States and setting maximum allowed residue levels—tolerances—for pesticides
on food commodities and animal feed. EPA’s activities are conducted under the Federal Insecticide,
Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as amended, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as
amended.                                                                                                                            127            970
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or
deceptive acts or practices. FTC’s food safety objective is to prevent consumer deception through the
                                                                                                                                        e             e
misrepresentations of food.
U.S. Customs Service, within the Department of the Treasury, is responsible for collecting revenues and
enforcing various customs and related laws. Customs assists FDA and FSIS in carrying out their
                                                                                                                                        e             e
regulatory roles in food safety.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, within the Department of the Treasury, is responsible for
administering and enforcing laws covering the production (including safety), use, and distribution of
                                                                                                                                        e             e
alcoholic beverages under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act and the Internal Revenue Code.
Total                                                                                                                           $1,150           13,901

                                               Fiscal year 1998 appropriated funds.
                                               FDA’s data includes funding and staffing for various programs across FDA that are involved with
                                              food safety activities, including the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for
                                              Veterinary Medicine, the field components for these centers, as well as overall agency-wide
                                               The agency did not specify its food safety resources.
                                                  Agencies’ funding and staffing levels are for both safety and quality inspection activities.
                                               We did not obtain these agencies’ food safety budgets due to the small amount of funds for
                                              these activities in previous years.

                                              Source: GAO’s analysis of federal agencies’ data.

                                              Page 11                                                                             GAO/T-RCED-99-256
Related GAO Products

              Food Safety: U.S. Lacks a Consistent Farm-to-Table Approach to Egg
              Safety (GAO/RCED-99-184, July 1, 1999).

              Food Safety: Experiences of Four Countries in Consolidating Their Food
              Safety Systems (GAO/RCED-99-80, Apr. 20, 1999).

              Food Safety: Opportunities to Redirect Federal Resources and Funds Can
              Enhance Effectiveness (GAO/RCED-98-224, Aug. 6, 1998).

              Food Safety: Federal Efforts to Ensure the Safety of Imported Foods Are
              Inconsistent and Unreliable (GAO/RCED-98-103, Apr. 30, 1998).

              Food Safety: Agencies’ Handling of a Dioxin Incident Caused Hardships
              for Some Producers and Processors (GAO/RCED-98-104, Apr. 10, 1998).

              Food Safety: Information on Foodborne Illnesses (GAO/RCED-96-96, May 8,

              Food Safety: Changes Needed to Minimize Unsafe Chemicals in Food
              (GAO/RCED-94-192, Sept. 26, 1994).

              Food Safety: A Unified, Risk-Based Food Safety System Needed
              (GAO/T-RCED-94-223, May 25, 1994).

              Food Safety: Risk-Based Inspections and Microbial Monitoring Needed for
              Meat and Poultry (GAO/RCED-94-110, May 19, 1994).

              Food Safety and Quality: Uniform, Risk-Based Inspection System Needed
              to Ensure Safe Food Supply (GAO/RCED-92-152, June 26, 1992).

(150152)      Page 12                                                  GAO/T-RCED-99-256
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