GAO Urges FDA to Adjust Food Safety Goals
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published a new report entitled
“FDA Can Build on Existing Efforts to Measure Progress and Implement Key Activities” that
analyzes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s work in a few areas, including feed
and food safety. The GAO’s analysis includes an assessment of how the agency has fared
since the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011.
FDA is responsible for overseeing the safety of about 80% of the nation’s food supply and
for promoting good nutrition. Federal oversight of food safety has been on GAO’s high-risk
list since 2007. According to FDA, FSMA aims to improve food safety by shifting FDA’s focus
toward preventing food contamination, rather than responding to foodborne illnesses. GAO
was asked to review FDA’s food safety- and nutrition-related activities and resources.
Among the many items examined, the report examines FDA’s
key food safety- and nutrition-related activities since FSMA’s
enactment and how FDA determined its priorities for those
activities, along with resources FDA dedicated to those
activities in fiscal years 2011 through 2016.
GAO analyzed FDA documents and data for fiscal
years 2011 through 2018 and interviewed FDA
officials, ultimately coming up with the following
recommendations for FDA:
• Develop performance measures with associated
targets and time frames for all eight of its food
safety- and nutrition-related objectives.
• Complete a plan that includes specific actions,
priorities, and milestones for implementing the Food
and Veterinary Medicine Program’s strategic plan.
Gillian Kelleher has
joined the Editorial Advisory
Gillian is vice
for Wegmans Food Markets,
a major U.S. regional
supermarket chain and one
of FORTUNE’s “Top 100
Companies to Work For”
in America. Gillian started
with Wegmans in 1997, and
her scope of responsibility
includes all aspects of
food safety and quality for
distribution, and Wegmans’
private label program.
Prior to joining Wegmans,
Gillian worked with Grand
Metropolitan Foods Europe
in the food manufacturing,
retail, and foodservice
sectors, including positions
with Express Foods, Häagen-Dazs, and Burger King.
Gillian earned her B.Sc.
degree in dairy and food
science from University
College Cork in Ireland.
She is a member of several
including the Institute of
Association for Food
Protection and Stop
vice-chair of the
Global Food Safety
Initiative’s Board of
Live Animals Processed under USDA
Need Not Comply with FSVP
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took steps to make the importation of
certain live animals less burdensome.
Live animals imported for use as food are regulated by FDA. However, most live animals
(e.g., cattle, poultry, swine) intended for use as food, including those that are imported, are
required to be slaughtered under mandatory inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and processed at USDA-regulated
establishments that are subject to USDA-administered Hazard Analysis and Critical Control
Points (HACCP) requirements. While the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)
regulation explicitly provides an exemption for certain foods (i.e., certain meat, poultry, and
egg products) that are subject to certain USDA requirements at the time of importation, the
exemption does not include live animals that are imported for use as food.
The guidance explains that the agency intends to exercise enforcement discretion regarding
the application of the FSVP rule to importers of live animals that must be slaughtered and
processed at establishments regulated by USDA and subject to HACCP requirements. This
means the agency does not intend to enforce the FSVP requirements that these importers
would otherwise have to meet. This intent to exercise enforcement discretion accounts for the
role of another federal agency with regards to these animals. This is also consistent with the
exemption in the FSVP rule for certain USDA-regulated products.
This intent to exercise enforcement discretion also does not apply to importers of other live
animals intended for use as food (e.g., farmed bison, deer, elk), the slaughtering and processing
of which is under FDA’s jurisdiction. Some animals that are subject to FDA jurisdiction for
slaughtering are slaughtered under voluntary inspection by FSIS.