NAS Recognition of the Consumer “Right to Know” is a Victory for Consumers and Food Safety
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
November 30, 2011
Today's announcement by the National Academy of Science that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service should dramatically increase the amount of testing and sampling data available for consumers on the Internet is a major step forward in the quest for a truly transparent food system. CSPI has used FSIS data in the past to give consumers advice on which plants produced turkeys with the lowest rates of Salmonella but in subsequent years found it impossible to access usable data from FSIS to update its recommendations. Now, the NAS has concluded decisively that access to this data could lead to valuable public health benefits, and should be shared without undue delay.
Importantly, the committee formally recognized the consumers' fundamental "right to know" as an important reason that information should be publicly accessible. Additionally, access to plant specific information provides opportunities for companies to understand how their food safety programs stack up compared to others in the industry, providing incentives for improvements that would favorably affect public health. CSPI has long advocated the release of food safety data for both these reasons, and urges FSIS to move rapidly to implement the NAS' recommendations.