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DeLauro: GAO report shows need for one food safety agency

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on duplicative government programs shows the need to consolidate the responsibilities of the 15 federal agencies that have jurisdiction over the nation’s food safety system into a single independent agency, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the ranking member on House Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I have introduced legislation that would establish such an agency since 1999, and believe that this is a critical step toward preventing food-borne illnesses and protecting public health,” DeLauro, former chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said late Tuesday.

“A single agency dedicated solely to food safety would eliminate the jurisdictional conflicts, as well as significantly reduce duplication and cost,” she said. “I look forward to reintroducing this bill soon, and will continue to fight for a single food safety agency.”

GAO said that consolidation of food safety responsibilities would likely result in a higher level of food safety, but the watchdog agency did not foresee significant cost savings, except for avoiding the costs of further fragmentation such as the congressionally mandated shift of catfish inspection from the Food and Drug Administration to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, according to a report in Food Safety News.

GAO report: Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue