GAO Issues Food Safety Reports for Arsenic and Pathogens
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced new food safety recommendations for managing the risk of arsenic in rice and efforts to reduce pathogens in meat and poultry products. Following a request to review issues related to arsenic in rice, GAO determined that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not updated its risk assessment of the human health effects in two years and was unable to provide a timeline for either an update or final draft guidance. GAO has recommended that FDA develop such timelines, work with other agencies to coordinate risk assessments and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop methods to detect contaminants in food.
GAO also reviewed USDA’s approach to reduction of pathogens in meat and poultry, finding the agency has failed to develop standards for some products—including turkey breasts and pork chops—and has not fully documented its process for deciding which products to consider for new standards. GAO also noted that USDA draft guidelines for controlling Salmonella in hogs do not contain information on the effectiveness of on-farm safety practices. The report recommends that the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service begin documenting agency processes for deciding which products to consider for new pathogen standards and make information on the effectiveness of Salmonella reduction efforts in hogs available as it finalizes its draft guidelines.