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Authority for Food Safety Shared Among Agencies

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 3:22 p.m. ET

The Obama administration unveiled new food safety standards today, aimed at reducing recent outbreaks of salmonella, E. coli and other foodborne diseases.

Currently 15 federal agencies and departments claim at least some responsibility for food safety issues. Independent industry groups, food experts and several lawmakers have proposed a consolidation of at least some agencies and responsibilities.

Today's recommendations direct the FDA to help the food industry establish better tracing systems to track the origins of a bacterial outbreak and will establish a new network to help the agencies and departments that regulate food safety to communicate better.

Here's a list of the 15 agencies and departments and their current food safety responsibilities, as outlined in a 2005 Government Accountability Office report (pdf). We'll update later with more information from the formal White House rollout:

Agency or Department Responsibility
Food Safety and Inspection Service Inspects all domestic and imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Protects the health and value of U.S. agricultural resources (e.g., animals and plants).
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration Establishes quality standards, inspection procedures and marketing of grain and other related products.
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Establishes quality and condition standards for dairy, fruit, vegetable, livestock, meat, poultry, and egg products. (Has no statutory authority.)
Agricultural Research Service Conducts food safety research.
Economic Research Service Provides analyses of the economic issues affecting the safety of the U.S. food supply.
National Agricultural Statistics Service Provides statistical data, including agricultural chemical usage data, related to the safety of the food supply.
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service Supports food safety research, education, and extension programs in the land-grant university system and other partner organizations.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Inspects all domestic and imported food products except meat, poultry, or processed egg products.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Protects the nation's public health, including foodborne illness surveillance.
National Marine Fisheries Service Provides voluntary, fee-for-service examinations of seafood for safety and quality.
Environmental Protection Agency Regulates the use of pesticides and maximum allowable residue levels on food commodities and animal feed.
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau Enforces laws covering the production, use, and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
Department of HomelandSecurity Coordinates agencies’ food security activities.
Federal Trade Commission Prohibits false advertisements for food.
Source: GAO

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 7, 2009; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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