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Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration
The idea of integrating federal, state, and local agencies into a national food safety system has been espoused in reports of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) (Hile, 1984; AFDO, 2001, 2009a,b), in the Institute of Medicine (IOM)/National Research Council (NRC) report Ensuring Safe Food: From Production to Consumption (IOM/NRC, 1998), by consumer representatives (DeWaal, 2003), and more recently in the report Stronger Partnerships for Safer Food: An Agenda forStrengthening State and Local Roles in the Nation’s Food Safety System (Taylor and David, 2009).
The committee understands an integrated system to be one that (1) minimizes duplication of food safety activities (e.g., inspection, education, data collection) by leveraging efforts at the state and local levels; (2) follows a common risk-based approach to prioritize activities at all levels of government; (3) meets a minimum set of standards at all levels of government in various areas (e.g., collection, utilization, and reporting of data; equivalency of laws and regulations and their implementation; inspection procedures and training; foodborne illness investigations); and (4) accesses and utilizes data and information collected at the state and local levels. For the purposes of this report, the terms “collaboration” and “cooperation” are used interchangeably to mean “interaction between [entities] that is largely beneficial to all those participating.”2
This chapter presents the committee’s rationale for supporting an integrated food safety system and describes the steps necessary to facilitate such integration. It also delineates the role and responsibilities of the FDA and the actions necessary to achieve integration and cooperation with state and local food safety programs. Other chapters offer recommendations whose implementation would facilitate the integration proposed in this chapter. For example, the chapters on internal organizational changes (Chapter 11), increased the efficiency of inspections (Chapter 8), and the adoption of a risk-based approach to food safety (Chapter 3) provide the basis for the harmonization and integration recommended herein. For the majority of the committee’s recommendations on this subject, the literature base is sparse. Most of the evidence supporting these recommendations was derived from information received from the FDA at the request of the committee, conversations with federal government employees, individual committee members’ regulatory and other experiences, and past reports addressing this topic.