How Does Federal Food Safety Legislation Protect the Nation's Food Supply?

Each year, roughly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases, 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die from related complications.

Since President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906, federal policy has provided basic safeguards in America's food system. But decades-old laws and regulations have left gaps in oversight that continue to widen given the diversity of foods and producers that are now part of the system.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 significantly updates and improves many of these safeguards, but it does not set clear inspection priorities or standards for engaging federal, state and local partners.

Federal leadership is needed to help build safeguards that will truly keep the nation safe from foodborne illness.

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in May 2013, explores ways to strengthen the country's food surveillance system.

Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.

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2011 Food Safety and Modernization Act updates many safeguards, but does not fill in all gaps in system