The broad introduction of refrigerated railcars and trucks, freezers, and air transport created a national and now global food Thus, the developments that have provided the American consumer with a wide array of food products have also introduced risks.
The current food system stretches from producers to consumers and is international in scope.
Ensuring its quantity, nutritional adequacy, and safety has become more complicated, and requires major government and private-sector efforts.
In the United States and other countries, the system of obtaining food was highly localized before the twentieth century.
With the development of new technologies and improved transportation, food production and distribution systems became national in scope and more complex.
Federal, state, and local governments play major roles in managing risks to protect the public from hazards in the food supply.
Regulatory agencies are empowered to prescribe rules, standards, and processes to control risks; to develop and maintain research programs to apply contemporary science and technology to safety decisions; to monitor risks in the food supply; and to provide information and education to all components of the food system.The present legal framework is comprised of many inconsistent statutes and regulations, and implementing authority is spread among at least 12 federal agencies (Appendix A).Such a fragmented structure requires heroic efforts at cooperation, communication, and coordination (federal agencies have reported more than 50 interagency agreements), but duplication of efforts and regulatory gaps are common.To improve the safety of the US food supply, in early 1997 President Clinton directed the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a food safety initiative.C) seeks to address hazards that present the greatest risk, make the best use of public and private resources, increase collaboration between public and private organizations, and improve coordination in the government.(See Appendix B for a 1998 Congressional Research Service analysis of several proposals.) In addition, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) recently developed which describes attributes of an effective food safety system (IFT, 1998).These principles have been endorsed by 13 professional, scientific societies.Recently, President Clinton announced a plan to create a Joint Institute for Food Safety Research that will develop a coordinated strategy for conducting food safety research consistent with the above national initiative (Office of the President, 1998).The US food supply is abundant and affordable and it is acknowledged by many to pose an acceptable level of risk.The estimated annual medical costs and productivity losses due to seven major foodborne pathogens range from .6 billion to .1 billion (Buzby and Roberts, 1997).The responsibility for managing foodborne risks is shared throughout the system because the wholesomeness and safety of a food are influenced by all the people and processes that handle or transform it from production to consumption (Sobal et al., in press).