The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report
reviewing the activities of the Food Safety Working Group (FSWG), an advisory
panel established by President Barack Obama (D) to recommend improvements
to the U.S. food safety system. According to GAO, the working group
has spurred the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture
and other federal agencies to implement “steps designed to increase
collaboration in some areas that cross regulatory jurisdictions––in particular,
improving produce safety, reducing Salmonella contamination, and developing
food safety performance measures.” The report concludes, however,
that the FSWG did not develop “a government-wide performance plan for food safety that provides a comprehensive picture of the federal government’s food safety efforts.”

GAO specifically faults the group for failing to include “results-oriented” goals,
performance measures or “information about the resources that are needed
to achieve its goals.” The March 2011 GAO report highlights “options to reduce
fragmentation and overlap in food safety oversight in the form of alternative
organizational structures,” while noting that “a detailed analysis of their
advantages, disadvantages, and potential implementation challenges has yet
to be conducted.” To this end, GAO has apparently suggested “that Congress
consider commissioning the National Academy of Sciences or a blue ribbon
panel to conduct a detailed analysis of alternative organizational structures
for food safety.” It has also urged the Office of Management and Budget to
work with federal agencies on “a government-wide performance plan for food
safety that includes results oriented goals and performance measures for food
safety oversight and a discussion about strategies and resources.” See GAO
Report Highlights, March 15, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.