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Food Safety Agencies and Authorities: A Primer

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Publication Date: February 1998

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 98-91

Topic: Health (Food and nutrition)


Several federal agencies, in cooperation with state governments, are responsible for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply. In the wake of an outbreak of foodborne illness and the largest recall of suspected contaminated meat in U.S. history in August 1997, several policymakers have reopened the debate on creating a single, independent, federal food safety agency. They assert that this would provide more effective regulatory control over the entire farm-to-table food production and marketing system by eliminating the overlapping and occasionally competing objectives of multiple agencies. As background for further discussion on this and related food safety issues, this report describes the roles of the primary federal and cooperating state agencies responsible for food safety and enumerates the major legislative authorities currently governing them.