US Food Safety Is Broken: Different Agencies Oversee Open-Faced vs Closed-Faced Sandwiches

A report was released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office that designated Food Safety as a high risk area “because of risks to the economy and to public health and safety.” The report finds that: “The current fragmented federal system has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources,” and they’ve recommended a fundamental reorganization of the entire system.

Just how messed up is it? Really, really, really messed up.

“The food safety system is further complicated by the subtle differences in food products that dictate which agency regulates a product as well as the frequency with which inspections occur. For example, how a packaged ham-and-cheese sandwich is regulated depends on how the sandwich is presented. USDA inspects manufacturers of packaged open-face meat or poultry sandwiches (e.g., those with one slice of bread), but FDA inspects manufacturers of packaged closed-face meat or poultry sandwiches (e.g., those with two slices of bread). Although there are no differences in the risks posed by these products, USDA inspects wholesale manufacturers of open-face sandwiches sold in interstate commerce daily, while FDA inspects closed-face sandwiches an average of once every 5 years.

Yeah, this one sounds like a tear-down. —MEGHANN MARCO

High Risk Series: An Update [GAO]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Johnie says:

    So..this begs the question of.. who inspects sandwiches with 3 slices of bread (ie Big Macs)?

  2. WindowSeat says:

    Never underestimate the power of the Closed-Face Sandwich Industry!

  3. homerjay says:

    MMmmm…. Open faced club sand wedge….

  4. timmus says:

    I’m confused… what are open-face and close-faced sandwiches? I can’t recall ever buying a sandwich without the bread top already on it.

  5. BillyShears says:

    I contend that if you’re eating one of those pre-wrapped “deli” sandwiches from 7-11 or the Walgreen’s food aisle, “food safety” probably isn’t your #1 concern anyway.

  6. Kornkob says:

    An open faced sandwich is one that is served with no top. It is, essentially, a slice of bread with a bunch of toppings piled on it. Sometimes it is also covered with gravy.

    But they are talking about premade sandwiches here, not resturant service. I’ve seen some grocery chains here in Wisconsin have started competing for the lunch crowd offering salad bars and pre-packaged sandwiches with the bread, cheese and meat all packaged together but not made into a sandwich. I suppose that would be ‘open faced’ but I wonder how local health department guidelines figure into these things.

  7. “I’m confused… what are open-face and close-faced sandwiches? I can’t recall ever buying a sandwich without the bread top already on it.”

    Exactly what you think — open face have no bread on top. I suppose if you wanted you could call bruschetta an “open face sandwich.”

  8. shaunirving says:

    I remember hearing the same thing about frozen pizzas some time ago… that facilities that manufacture pepperoni pizzas get the regular visits, while cheese pizzas are checked on by the FDA. I guess because spoilage issues with meat.

    Compared to this article, the pizza thing seems a whole lot less ridiculous now.

  9. Does this mean I should switch to an open face sandwich diet only??? Should I cut back on my closed faced sandwich intake? Help… I dont know what to eat anymore. I’m so confused with all these stories about what may be good for me and what is bad for me. The damn liberal media, undermining our faith in the establishment. Why do you all hate America so much??

  10. Tonguetied says:

    I know that I see a hell of a lot more closed face sandwiches than I see open faced sandwiches. The frequency of inspection might have something to do with the number of manufacturers. If you have, say, 100 open face sandwich manufacturers (manufacturers?) versus, say, 100,000 closed face sandwich manufacturers it might be a littler easier and take less manpower to inspect the 100 more frequently.

  11. Johnie says:
  12. Johnie says:

    On a related note, Judge in Boston ruled a burrito is not a sandwich

    In his ruling, Locke cited Webster’s definition of a sandwich and explained that the difference comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla: “A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans,” he wrote.

  13. So how does this ruling effect wraps? Do wraps count as sandwiches? Does this mean that the sandwich I buy from the market is inspected once every five years whereas the Wrap isnt inspected at all?

  14. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    Bitches better stay off my snack wraps… Please don’t abuse my McDiet!!!