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GAO examines food import safety gaps

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

A lack of coordination between the agencies that oversee imported food could allow high-risk foods to enter domestic commerce, says a Government Accountability Office 1report released Oct. 14. Gaps arise in part because FDA, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection division do not have fully interoperable computer systems, GAO says. Additionally, FDA has limited authority to ensure importer compliance and does not assign unique identification numbers to manufacturers, making it difficult to target past violators, the report notes. FDA's response to the report points out the pending Food Safety Enhancement Act, H.R. 2749, would authorize the agency to institute a system of unique numerical identifiers for food firms (2"The Tan Sheet" Sept. 21, 2009)

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