Monday, May 24, 2010

The United States faces challenges to ensuring food safety.

The Honorable Brad Miller
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight
Committee on Science and Technology
House of Representatives
Subject: Food Safety: FDA Has Begun to Take Action to Address Weaknesses in
Food Safety Research, but Gaps Remain
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The United States faces challenges to ensuring food safety. First, imported food
makes up a substantial and growing portion of the U.S. food supply, with 60 percent
of fresh fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood coming from across our
borders. In recent years, there has been an increase in reported outbreaks of
foodborne illness associated with both domestic and imported produce. Second, we
are increasingly eating foods that are consumed raw and that have often been
associated with foodborne illness outbreaks, including leafy greens such as spinach.
Finally, shifting demographics means that more of the U.S. population is, and
increasingly will be, susceptible to foodborne illnesses. The risk of severe and lifethreatening
conditions caused by foodborne illnesses is higher for older adults, young
children, pregnant women, and immune-compromised individuals. In January 2007
GAO designated federal oversight of food safety as a high-risk area needing urgent
attention and transformation because of the federal government’s fragmented
oversight of food safety.1

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