Bill Clinton photo

Memorandum on Improving the Safety of the Nation's Food Supply

January 25, 1997

Memorandum for the Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Subject: Improving the Safety of the Nation's Food Supply

Americans rightly expect to have the world's safest food supply. Although our food is unmatched in quantity and quality, we can do better in our efforts to eliminate disease caused by microorganisms and other contaminants. Americans still suffer thousands of food-related deaths and millions of food-related illnesses.

The 21st century will present new and greater challenges in this area. Novel pathogens are emerging. Long-understood pathogens are growing resistant to treatment. Americans eat more foods prepared outside the home, and we consume record levels of imported food—some of which moves across the globe overnight. These changing circumstances require greatly strengthened systems of coordination, surveillance, prevention, research, and education.

My Administration has already taken a number of steps to improve food safety. We modernized the meat, poultry, and seafood safety systems. I signed into law new legislation to keep harmful pesticides off our fruits and vegetables—and legislation that keeps our drinking water safe and pure. Today, I announced a new national early warning system for food-borne illness. The system will allow us to respond more quickly to disease outbreaks and to better prevent them in the future.

But we need to do more. Government, consumers, and industry must work together to further reduce food-borne disease and to ensure our food supply is the safest in the world.

I hereby direct that you work with consumers, producers, industry, States, universities, and the public to identify additional ways to improve the safety of our food supply through government and private sector action, including publicprivate partnerships. Your recommendations should identify steps to further improve surveillance, inspections, research, risk assessment, education, and coordination among local, State, and Federal health authorities. You should report back to me within 90 days with your recommendations.


William J. Clinton, Memorandum on Improving the Safety of the Nation's Food Supply Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives