Toward a Stronger and More Effective Food Safety System

The accountabilities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) different Office of Foods comprise providing exclusive leadership and organization to all FDA food-related curriculums; directing the progress of integrated policies, plans, policies, and finances to build the FDA’s food-related scientific and regulatory capacities and programs, including the recruitment and preparation of key personnel and the progress of information organizations (FDA, 2009); and exercising straight line authority over the Center for Food Protection and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Epicenter for Veterinary Medicine (CVM).

Risk-Based Activities of CFSAN

Though CFSAN has a long antiquity of conducting safety valuations for food flavors and risk assessments for elements, it was not until 1999 that the epicenter conducted more complex measureable risk valuations for pathogens. In 2002, a CFSAN risk investigation working group shaped an internal report Instigation and Conduct of All Major Jeopardy Assessments Within a Risk Enquiry Framework, which is created on the principles of risk examination and describes how to rank and conduct risk calculations.

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Food Safety Performance Measures

The Healthy People food safety goals could theoretically serve as the basis for the identification of specific performance measures. However, these goals now use such words as “reduce” and “improve,” which cannot serve as metrics per se. Other targets and indicators for measuring the performance of the federal food safety system have been recently described.


There is a tendency on the part of government agencies, including the FDA, to assume that scientists are interchangeable: that individuals trained to conduct bench experiments in microbiology, for example, can easily be shifted to performing risk assessment or crisis management. It is essential that new scientific staff be acquired to provide the core competencies necessary to create a new, risk-based approach for the agency.

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