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Appendix III: Actions by

Appendix III: Actions by Experts to Appendix III: Actions Identified by Experts to Consider Including in a National Strategy to Improve Food Safety Oversight Consider Including in a National Strategy to Improve Food Safety Oversight During the 2-day meeting we convened with the assistance of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, experts identified a number of actions to consider including in a national strategy to improve food safety oversight. At least 10 of the 19 experts agreed that each of these actions described in table 8 could be appropriate to consider for inclusion in a national strategy, but not all of the experts agreed that every identified action should be considered. We are not endorsing any of these actions. These actions were identified by experts for consideration. Table 8: Actions Identified by Experts to Consider Including in a National Strategy to Improve Food Safety Oversight Action Allocate resources on the basis of risk Manage risks consistently across commodities Streamline food safety functions Consider intra-agency consolidation Consider inter-agency consolidation Align federal funding provided to states for food safety Description A comprehensive examination of the food safety system to evaluate how resources are currently being used could guide the implementation of a science-based, prevention-oriented national strategy that would allocate resources on the basis of risk. Under such a strategy, changes in resource allocation would be directly linked to reductions in foodborne illness risk. The evaluation and deployment of resources should consider both funding and human capital resource requirements. It should also integrate federal, tribal, state, and local resources to better coordinate and take advantage of resources already being expended at other levels of government and by industry. Any national strategy should make the allocation of resources flexible so that resources can be deployed and redeployed according to the changing needs of the food safety oversight system. A risk management model could be outlined through a national strategy to ensure a consistent approach across food commodities. For example, a risk management model could be used to inform a decision to modify the statutes that the Food Safety and Inspection Service implements, such as the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Improvement Act, so that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inspection model is risk-based. This would help to align the authorities of USDA with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which outlines the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) responsibilities. Moreover, ensuring a consistent approach to risk management across food commodities could benefit industry by reducing the resources companies expend for regulatory compliance rather than for managing risk. By analyzing major functions of the food safety system—such as recalls or inspections—and identifying cross-agency functional areas, stakeholders can evaluate the oversight system holistically rather than by commodity. Such a review of the system could lead to ways to streamline and improve food safety oversight—for example, consolidating federal risk assessment functions or enhancing existing collaborative mechanisms for risk assessment. Unifying food safety functions within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could elevate the importance of food safety within the department and reduce the effects of fragmentation. Unifying the food safety functions of FDA was identified as an option. Alternatively, or as a secondary step, food safety functions could be consolidated under a separate agency outside FDA, but remaining under HHS. A national strategy could include a long-term goal to consolidate food safety functions into a single food safety agency. However, experts cautioned that it may not be feasible in the near-term. Instead, experts emphasized the importance of interim steps, such as consolidating food safety functions within agencies and harmonizing food safety functions across agencies. A national strategy could include aligning support to states from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FDA, and other federal agencies involved in food safety. This could include aligning federal support to state health departments for food safety issues and communication. Page 39 GAO-17-74 Food Safety

Appendix III: Actions Identified by Experts to Consider Including in a National Strategy to Improve Food Safety Oversight Action Improve information infrastructure Improve risk communication among agencies and to the public Invest in training and professional development for food safety officials Source: GAO analysis. I GAO-17-74 Description Improving the information infrastructure is needed to improve the reliability, accessibility, and usability of data for food safety oversight. A national strategy should address how data are collected and shared among the relevant entities. It should also ensure the availability of data that can be used to improve risk analysis. This could involve a number of both short- and long-term actions. Short-term actions could include agreements to aid in the transferability of data among entities responsible for collecting data related to food safety and an increase in research funding for understanding the public health impact of foodborne disease. Long-term actions could include establishing a centralized data collection center and establishing a centralized risk assessment center. Improvements in risk communication could increase public confidence in the management of foodborne illness outbreaks, as well as confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply and the performance of agencies responsible for overseeing the food supply. Investing in training and professional development for food safety officials is essential for ensuring the efficient and effective functioning of the food safety oversight system. This includes developing the capacity of food safety officials to understand risk assessment, to work across agencies, and to use technology and data to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. This also includes fostering a culture of food safety at agencies engaged in food safety activities. Note: GAO analysis included a review of experts’ statements in meeting transcripts and analysis of a follow-up questionnaire sent to meeting participants. Page 40 GAO-17-74 Food Safety

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