GAO Report Offers Recommendations for Improving Safety of Food Purchased Through USDA Commodity ProgramWednesday, May 4, 2011
(American Meat Institute)
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its recommendations on improving the safety of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity program, which provides foods to schools taking part in national school meals programs.
GAO was asked to review the extent to which the program’s purchasing specifications related to microbial contamination differ from federal regulations; the extent to which specifications for raw ground beef differ from those imposed by some other large purchasers; and examples of schools’ practices to help ensure that food is not contaminated.
GAO compared the program’s purchasing specifications to federal regulations for food sold commercially, gathered information from seven large purchasers of ground beef, and interviewed officials in 18 school districts in five states, selected in part because of their purchasing practices.
GAO issued the following recommendations upon its analysis:
- The creation of a systematic and
transparent process to determine whether foods
offered by the program require more-stringent
specifications related to microbial
contamination, including steps to: identify
pathogens, strains of pathogens, or other foods
that merit more-stringent specifications;
document the scientific basis used to develop
the specifications; and review the
specifications on a periodic
- Instruction from the Secretary of
Agriculture to the commodity program to share
information with school districts in a more
explicit form regarding the foods covered by
more-stringent purchasing specifications
related to microbial contamination to enable
districts to make more informed
- Instruction from Secretary of Agriculture to the commodity program to issue more specific guidance to states and school districts regarding the applicability of the regulatory requirement for food safety inspections to schools that do not prepare food.
To view this report, go to http://www.gao.gov/Products/GAO-11-376.share on facebook share on twitter