While food safety is also regulated by the USDA, the FDA oversees approximately 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, including all produce and seafood. Food safety experts and the public have criticized the FDA food safety system and questioned whether it properly safeguards Americans from foodborne diseases. Congress asked the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to examine the gaps in the current food safety system under the purview of the FDA and to identify the tools needed to improve food safety.

The IOM determined that the FDA lacks a comprehensive vision for food safety and should take a risk-based approach in order to properly protect the national food supply. In addition, the FDA should provide standards for food inspection so that states and the federal government follow the same rigorous methods for inspections, surveillance, and outbreak investigations. Most notably, the IOM recommends that Congress take legislative action to provide the FDA with the authority, including authority for mandatory recalls, that it needs to fulfill its food safety mission. The report concludes that Americans will continue to suffer from high rates of foodborne illnesses unless the FDA reevaluates and reworks its approach to food safety management.

A summary of the report titled “Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration” is available below: