concerns. Focus groups targeted to key stakeholders may be an effective means of accomplishing that.
As part of its charge, the committee examined the issues specific to the public release of two types of FSIS establishment-specific data: sampling and testing data (derived from standard laboratory tests) and inspection and enforcement data (derived from text written by inspectors). In their deliberations, committee members expressed different views about the implications of releasing inspection and enforcement data, which are subjective. A minority noted that minimizing the potential adverse consequences of releasing this type of establishment-specific data would be especially challenging, citing concerns about inspector variability, the potential for misinterpretation of the data, and confidentiality issues. The majority, however, believed strongly that public access to this type of data could help to identify variability in inspector performance and enforcement outcomes and ultimately facilitate more uniform inspection.
In keeping with the purpose of attaining targeted transparency, public release of establishment-specific data is expected to result in improvement in food-safety efforts on the part of industry and government and ultimately have beneficial public-health outcomes. Although it is not possible to make a direct causal link between public data access and specific food-safety improvements, the committee concluded that measures of other outcomes of public release of establishment-specific data are available and that documenting those outcomes could provide insights into the relationship between data release and food safety. For example, public release of establishment-specific data could result in increased compliance with regulatory requirements, and FSIS could measure this. There are also ways of measuring the extent to which released data are used, for example, number of Web downloads, peer-reviewed reports generated, and policy changes.