The President's Council on Food Safety/ National Academy of Sciences Report

Office of Science and Technology Policy

For Immediate Release 
Contact:  456-6108
March 15, 1999



The President's Council on Food Safety/ National Academy of Sciences Report

 Today the President's Council on Food Safety released its response to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, "Ensuring Safe Food from Production to Consumption." The Council response supports all the goals contained in the NAS's recommendations to strengthen the food safety system.

 The National Academy of Sciences report, "Ensuring Safe Food From Production to Consumption," made three basic conclusions: (1) an effective and efficient food safety system must be based on science; (2) the current statutes governing food safety should be revised in order to achieve a food safety system based on science; and (3) Congress should enact legislation to establish a unified and central framework for managing federal food safety programs, which should be headed by a single official with responsibility for all federal food safety activities.

 The Council agrees with these conclusions and lauds the NAS report as a constructive contribution to efforts to improve the effectiveness of the federal food safety system through the strengthening of science and risk assessment, strategic planning, and better federal integration with state and local governments.

 The President stated: "I am committed to ensuring the safety of America's food supply, and the NAS report will play a key role in our continuing efforts to establish a seamless, science-based food safety system.  I call on Congress to support the changes necessary to make our food as safe as possible."

 The Council responded to each of the recommendations in the NAS report with the specific assessments briefly described below:

Recommendation: The food safety system should be based on science. The Council agrees and provides numerous examples where this is already the case, including the development and implementation of the FoodNet and PulseNet systems for surveillance and identification of foodborne pathogens and the implementation of new science-based inspections of meat, poultry, and seafood.  The Council has also identified areas that should be strengthened such as improving the ability to assess health risks from pathogens in food.

Recommendation: Federal statutes should be based on scientifically supportable risks to public health.  The Council agrees and will call on Congress to work with it to create scientifically-based statutes to promote food safety.  The Council will conduct a thorough review of existing statutes and determine what can be accomplished with existing regulatory flexibility and what improvements will require statutory changes.

 Recommendation: A comprehensive national food safety plan should be developed.  The development of such a plan is already underway and is one of the primary functions of the Council.  One component of the plan will be exploring methods to assess the comparative health risks to the nation's food supply.

Recommendation: A new statute should be enacted that establishes a unified framework for food safety programs with a single official with control over all federal food safety resources.  The Council supports the goal of a unified framework for food safety programs and will conduct an assessment of structural models and other mechanisms to strengthen the federal food safety system through better coordination, planning, and resource allocation.

Recommendation: Agencies should work more effectively with partners in state and local governments.  The Council agrees that the roles of state, tribal, and local governments in the food safety system are critical and that their efforts deserve the formal recognition that partnership in a national food safety system conveys.

 The President established the Council on August 25, 1998 to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for federal food safety activities and ensure that federal agencies annually develop coordinated food safety budgets.

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