Our priorities include the food safety programs run by the federal government. We provide research-based recommendations and analysis to the agencies that regulate food safety and investigate foodborne illness outbreaks, and to the lawmakers who provide oversight and funding for these programs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s meat and poultry safety program is governed by outdated laws that do not adequately protect the public from harmful contaminants that cause greatest concern today. For example, the agency’s inspection methods were developed in the early 1900s and are not sufficient to detect microscopic hazards in our food such as bacteria and viruses. Pew is working with public health experts, consumer advocacy groups, food producers, retailers, and other stakeholders to promote the adoption of science-based food safety policies and to modernize federal meat and poultry inspection laws. See our collection of research and resources on this topic.
To reduce foodborne illnesses, businesses and government food safety agencies need to understand how contamination occurred in the past and then develop strategies to prevent recurrences. But investigations that can provide these answers—often called root-cause analyses—are not consistently conducted for foodborne disease outbreaks. There is also no mechanism for sharing lessons learned among food safety agencies and with the food industry. Pew is working with these stakeholders and others to develop standard protocols for root-cause analyses and to ensure that lessons learned inform efforts to improve companies’ food safety strategies and government policies.