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]