Americans count on the safety of their food. Yet, all too often, outbreaks of foodborne illness threaten our health. It has been estimated that one in four Americans suffers from a foodborne illness each year.
Over the last decade, new challenges have emerged from novel disease agents, increasing globalization of the food supply chain, and an aging U.S. population. Concurrently over the last decade, HHS also has improved techniques and surveillance to detect foodborne illness. HHS has an urgent mission to strengthen the food safety system, which will require Federal leadership and strong cooperation from the regulatory, public health, public, and private sectors.
Working in collaboration with Federal food safety partners and the President’s Food Safety Working Group, HHS is working to develop a food safety system that is flexible and responsive to current and emerging threats in the 21st century.
Prevent Harm to Consumers from Foodborne Illness
Too often in the past, the food safety system has focused on reacting to problems rather than preventing harm in the first place. HHS will prioritize prevention and implement sensible measures designed to prevent problems before they occur. Key to this approach will be setting rigorous standards for food safety and working with the food industry to ensure it meets these standards.
Improve Data Sources and Analysis for Effective Food Safety Inspections and Enforcement
High-quality information will help determine which foods are at highest risk; which solutions should be put into place to reduce risk; and which agencies should be responsible. Such information comes from routine surveillance, outbreak investigations, and scientific studies.
HHS, working in tandem with its Federal, state, and local regulatory and public health partners, will prioritize crucial inspection and enforcement activity across the world; support safety efforts by states, localities, and businesses at home; and enhance data collection and analysis to guide these efforts and evaluate their outcomes. HHS agencies will work together to maximize interagency collaboration and accountability.
Identify and Quickly Stop Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness
Our goal is to limit the number, scale, and duration of foodborne outbreaks. HHS will work with its Federal, state, and local partners to strengthen public health and regulatory systems to enhance our ability to detect outbreaks and to detect them faster, use food tracing systems to identify source and distribution of product, remove product from the market, and conduct root cause analysis to correct the problem and inform future prevention efforts. HHS will also work on communications following an outbreak to help restore consumer confidence in the food supply.