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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 15, 1999


                 The President's Council on Food Safety/
                   National Academy of Sciences Report

Today the President's Council on Food Safety released its response to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, "Ensuring Safe Food from Production to Consumption." The Council response supports all the goals contained in the NAS's recommendations to strengthen the food safety system.

The National Academy of Sciences report, "Ensuring Safe Food From Production to Consumption," made three basic conclusions: (1) an effective and efficient food safety system must be based on science; (2) the current statutes governing food safety should be revised in order to achieve a food safety system based on science; and (3) Congress should enact legislation to establish a unified and central framework for managing federal food safety programs, which should be headed by a single official with responsibility for all federal food safety activities.

The Council agrees with these conclusions and lauds the NAS report as a constructive contribution to efforts to improve the effectiveness of the federal food safety system through the strengthening of science and risk assessment, strategic planning, and better federal integration with state and local governments.

The President stated: "I am committed to ensuring the safety of America's food supply, and the NAS report will play a key role in our continuing efforts to establish a seamless, science-based food safety system. I call on Congress to support the changes necessary to make our food as safe as possible."

The Council responded to each of the recommendations in the NAS report with the specific assessments briefly described below:

     Recommendation:  The food safety system should be based on 
     science.  The Council agrees and provides numerous examples 
     where this is already the case, including the development and 
     implementation of the FoodNet and PulseNet systems for 
     surveillance and identification of foodborne pathogens and the 
     implementation of new science-based inspections of meat, 
     poultry, and seafood.  The Council has also identified areas
     that should be strengthened such as improving the ability to 
     assess health risks from pathogens in food.

     Recommendation:  Federal statutes should be based on 
     scientifically supportable risks to public health.  The Council 
     agrees and will call on Congress to work with it to create 
     scientifically-based statutes to promote food safety.  The 
     Council will conduct a thorough review of existing statutes and 
     determine what can be accomplished with existing regulatory 
     flexibility and what improvements will require statutory changes.

     Recommendation:  A comprehensive national food safety plan should 
     be developed.  The development of such a plan is already underway 
     and is one of the primary functions of the Council.  One component 
     of the plan will be exploring methods to assess the comparative 
     health risks to the nation's food supply.

     Recommendation:  A new statute should be enacted that establishes 
     a unified framework for food safety programs with a single 
     official with control over all federal food safety resources.  The 
     Council supports the goal of a unified framework for food safety 
     programs and will conduct an assessment of structural models and 
     other mechanisms to strengthen the federal food safety system 
     through better coordination, planning, and resource allocation.

     Recommendation:  Agencies should work more effectively with 
     partners in state and local governments.  The Council agrees that 
     the roles of state, tribal, and local governments in the food 
     safety system are critical and that their efforts deserve the 
     formal recognition that partnership in a national food safety 
     system conveys.

     The President established the Council on August 25, 1998 to develop

a comprehensive strategic plan for federal food safety activities and ensure that federal agencies annually develop coordinated food safety budgets.