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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 98-86932 International Standard Book No: 0-309-06559-3
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COMMITTEE TO ENSURE SAFE FOOD FROM PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION
JOHN C. BAILAR III* (Chair),
Department of Health Studies, The University of Chicago, Illinois
CAROLE A. BISOGNI,
Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
DAVID L. CALL, Retired,
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
MARSHA N. COHEN,
Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco
MICHAEL P. DOYLE,
Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement, University of Georgia, Griffin
DELIA A. HAMMOCK,
Good Housekeeping Institute, New York
LONNIE J. KING,
College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing
GILBERT A. LEVEILLE,
Leveille Associates, Denville, New Jersey
RICHARD A. MERRILL,*
University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
SANFORD A. MILLER,
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio
HARLEY W. MOON,†
Veterinary Medical Research Institute, Iowa State University, Ames
MICHAEL T. OSTERHOLM,
Minnesota Department of Health, Minneapolis
THOMAS D. TRAUTMAN,
General Mills, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ALLISON A. YATES, Study Director
CHARLOTTE KIRK BAER, Senior Program Officer
SANDRA A. SCHLICKER, Senior Program Officer
ELISABETH REESE, Research Associate
KATHERINE J. GORTON, Policy Intern
GAIL E. SPEARS, Administrative Assistant
SHIRLEY B. THATCHER, Administrative Assistant
GERALDINE KENNEDO, Project Assistant
MELINDA SIMONS, Project Assistant
FOOD SAFETY OVERSIGHT COMMISSION
DALE E. BAUMAN,†
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
FERGUS M. CLYDESDALE,
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
JOHANNA T. DWYER,
Tufts Medical School and School of Nutrition Science and Policy, New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
JOHN W. ERDMAN, Jr.,
College of Agriculture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
GEORGE R. HALLBERG,
The Cadmus Group, Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts
JOHN W. SUTTIE,†
University of Wisconsin-Madison
BAILUS WALKER, Jr.,*
Howard University Cancer Center, Washington, DC
PAUL GILMAN, Executive Director,
Board on Agriculture
KAREN HEIN, Executive Officer,
Institute of Medicine
MICHAEL J. PHILLIPS, Director,
Board on Agriculture
ALLISON A. YATES, Director,
Food and Nutrition Board
Protecting the food supply from harmful agents and thus promoting the public health is an important activity of government. The current system for food safety in the United States is a complex and multi-layered activity that depends on multiple players that include the federal government, state governments, local governments, universities, the news media, and, of course, the public itself, both as preparers and handlers of food and as consumers. These varied roles which each segment plays in food safety, with their many complexities and charges, must be integrated within the equally complex and changing system of the food supply from production to final consumption. Though the federal roles of guidance, research, surveillance, enforcement, and education are extremely important, they represent only one part of the food safety system.
Given the size and complexity of this multi-faceted system, it is not unexpected that new information and new concerns often emerge. Many are due to advances in science or to changes in food production and consumption patterns. The system itself must then change if it is to maintain effective vigilance over the safety of the food supply. Congress has acted to strengthen the federal role as the primary agent for integration of activities related to food safety. Many components of the federal food safety system determined by Congress have been relatively unchanged over the last few decades, and concerns have come forward that major changes may be required.
At the request of Congress, and in light of the emerging food safety concerns and many recent proposals recommending change, the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in late 1997 to 1) determine the scientific
basis of an effective food safety system, 2) assess the effectiveness of the current food safety system in the United States, 3) identify scientific needs and gaps within the current system, and 4) provide recommendations on scientific and organizational changes in federal food safety activity needed to ensure an effective science-based food safety system.
The Committee to Ensure Safe Food from Production to Consumption was formed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) to do the evaluation in response to this request. The committee reviewed mechanisms now in place at the federal level to ensure safe food, assessed the extent to which they are effective in addressing food safety issues from production to consumption, and developed recommendations about changes needed to move toward a more effective food safety system. This volume reports the deliberations, conclusions, and recommendations of the committee.
The IOM and the NRC also formed an oversight commission composed of members from the Food and Nutrition Board, the Board on Agriculture, and the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the Commission on Life Sciences. The chair, Donald Kennedy, is a member of both IOM and of NAS. The role of the Commission was to nominate a committee whose expertise would be appropriately balanced for a study of this scope and complexity. The multidisciplinary group included experts in public health, epidemiology, food science, food microbiology, production agriculture, veterinary medicine, food technology, food regulatory law, consumer protection, consumer education, and media communications. In addition, five members of the 13 member committee held previous positions in federal agencies involved in food safety, three were from the food industry, and two from the agriculture/aquaculture industry. And, of course, all committee members are frequent consumers of food (see Appendix G for biographical sketches of each committee member).
The committee held three meetings during its short period of deliberations. The first meeting, held March 23 to 25, 1998, included an open meeting to hear from the federal agencies most involved with food safety and from Dr. Ed Knipling, Associate Administrator of ARS/USDA who served as the project officer for the study. Representatives from each agency were asked to discuss the mission of their agency and its involvement in regulatory efforts, and to provide the agency budget for key activities related to food safety (see Appendix E).
The second meeting, held April 28 to May 1, 1998, was held in conjunction with an open meeting to which individuals representing many of the major organizations with interests related to food safety presented their responses to three questions:
What works well in the current US food safety system?
What changes would lead to a more effective food safety system?
What types of changes would be detrimental to an effective food safety system?
A summary of the major points made by invited participants during the second workshop appears as Appendix D in the report.
The final meeting of the committee, held June 12-14, 1998, did not include an open portion. At this meeting, the committee finished its major deliberations related to the report and finalized its recommendations.
The Executive Summary presents the committee's principal findings and recommendations from its review of the four areas it was charged to consider. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the issues and concerns related to food safety, including a brief history of food safety legislation since the early 1900's. Chapter 2 describes the current food safety system, with special attention to the federal role. Public health hazards resulting from the changing nature of pathogens and other toxicants are discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents the committee's judgment regarding the attributes of a model food safety system. Chapter 5 compares the current federal system with the model system and identifies gaps. Chapter 6 includes the major conclusions and recommendations of the committee regarding changes needed in approaches and organizational structure to move toward a more effective food safety system. The appendices include reports and information related to the overall issues: Appendix A includes organizational charts, which identify the various components of the federal governments with functions related to food safety; Appendix B includes a recently released report from the Congressional Research Service outlining past recommendations for organizational change in food safety at the federal level; Appendix C includes the executive summary from Food Safety from Farm to Table: A National Food-Safety Initiative; Appendix D is a summary of points presented to the committee at their open meeting in April by representatives of various groups with interests in food safety, Appendix E includes information provided by federal agencies on levels of funding attributed to the major components of food safety for the years 1995-98, and Appendix F acknowledges the many individuals who assisted the committee by providing comments and materials in the information-gathering phase of the study.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the IOM and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the final report is the responsibility of the IOM, NRC, and the study committee, and not the responsibility of the reviewers. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The Committee to Ensure Safe Food From Production to Consumption thanks the following individuals, who are neither officials nor employees of the IOM or the NRC, for their participation in the review of this report: Francis F. Busta, University of Minnesota; Lester Crawford, Georgetown University; Bernard D. Goldstein, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Ray Hankes,
Preferred Stock Genetic, Inc.; Carol Tucker Foreman, Foreman, Heiderpriem and Mager, Inc.; Cynthia M. Harris, Florida A&M University; Donald Hornig, Harvard University; Malden Nesheim, Cornell University; Stuart E. Richardson, California Department of Health Services; Mark Silbergeld, Consumers Union; and Bruce Stillings, Food & Agriculture Consultants. While the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee, the IOM, and the NRC.
On behalf of the committee, it is a pleasure to thank Allison Yates, study director, senior staff officers Charlotte Kirk Baer and Sandra Schlicker, research associate Elisabeth Reese, IOM policy intern Kate Gorton, and project assistants Geraldine Kennedo and Melinda Simons. Their efforts were essential to the timely conclusion of our mission. Additionally, the committee thanks Michael Phillips for his assistance as director of the Board on Agriculture and Shirley Thatcher, his administrative assistant, and Norman Grossblatt of the Commission on Life Sciences for his valued editorial assistance early in the development of the report. We thank Michael A. Edington from the IOM Reports and Information Office for assistance in the production of the report and Claudia Carl, who managed the report review process. We also thank all who provided comments to the committee during the course of its deliberations.
It is a pleasure also to record my personal thanks to the committee itself, which accomplished a prodigious amount of high-quality analysis and interpretation in a very short time.
JOHN C. BAILAR III,
COMMITTEE TO ENSURE SAFE FOOD FROM PRODUCTION TO CONSUMPTION
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Ensuring Safe Food From Production to Consumption