Food Safety: FDA Could Strengthen Oversight of Imported Food by Improving Enforcement and Seeking Additional Authorities, Statement of Lisa Shames, Director Natural Resources and Environment, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives   [open pdf - 755KB]

"Food imported from around the world constitutes a substantial and increasing percentage of the U.S. food supply. Ensuring the safety of imported food challenges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better target its resources on the foods posing the greatest risks to public health and to coordinate efforts with the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) so that unsafe food does not enter U.S. commerce. This testimony focuses on (1) FDA's overseas inspections, (2) identified gaps in agencies' enforcement efforts to ensure the safety of imported food, and (3) statutory authorities that GAO has identified that could help FDA's oversight of food safety. This testimony is principally based on GAO's September 2009 report, Food Safety: Agencies Need to Address Gaps in Enforcement and Collaboration to Enhance Safety of Imported Food (GAO-09-873) and has been updated with information from FDA. GAO previously recommended that FDA explore a unique identifier for firms, among other things. GAO also recommended FDA seek statutory authorities as needed, such as for preventive controls. FDA has agreed with these recommendations and has sought needed authorities."

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