[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[July 3, 1998]
[Page 1183]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1183]]

Memorandum on the Joint Institute for Food Safety Research
July 3, 1998

Memorandum for the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the 
Secretary of Agriculture

Subject: Joint Institute for Food Safety Research

    Americans enjoy the most bountiful and safe food supply in the 
world. My Administration has made substantial improvements in the food 
safety system, from modernizing meat, seafood, and poultry inspections 
to creating a high-tech early warning system to detect and control 
outbreaks of foodborne illness.
    Our success has been built on two guiding principles: (1) engaging 
all concerned parties including consumers, farmers, industry, and 
academia, in an open and far-ranging dialogue about improving food 
safety; and (2) grounding our efforts in the best science available. We 
have made progress, but more can be done to prevent the many foodborne 
illnesses that still occur in our country.
    As we look to the future of food safety, science and technology will 
play an increasingly central role. An expanded food safety research 
agenda is essential to continued improvements in the safety of America's 
food. We need new tools to detect more quickly dangerous pathogens, like 
E. coli O157:H7 and campylobacter, and we need better interventions that 
reduce the risk of contamination during food production.
    Food safety research is a critical piece of my Fiscal Year 1999 food 
safety initiative; and I have urged the Congress to revise the 
appropriations bills it currently is considering to provide full funding 
for this initiative. I also have urged the Congress to pass two critical 
pieces of legislation to bring our food safety system into the 21st 
century: (1) legislation ensuring that the Food and Drug Administration 
halts imports of fruits, vegetables, and other food products that come 
from countries that do not meet U.S. food safety requirements or that do 
not provide the same level of protection as is required for U.S. 
products; and (2) legislation giving the Department of Agriculture the 
authority to impose civil penalties for violations of meat and poultry 
regulations and to issue mandatory recalls to remove unsafe meat and 
poultry from the marketplace.
    At the same time, we need to make every effort to maximize our 
current resources and authorities. One very important way to achieve 
this objective is to improve and coordinate food safety research 
activities across the Federal Government, with State and local 
governments, and the private sector. Solid research can and will help us 
to identify foodborne hazards more rapidly and accurately, and to 
develop more effective intervention mechanisms to prevent food 
    I therefore direct you to report back to me within 90 days on the 
creation of a Joint Institute for Food Safety Research that will: (1) 
develop a strategic plan for conducting food safety research activities 
consistent with my Food Safety Initiative; and (2) efficiently 
coordinate all Federal food safety research, including with the private 
sector and academia. This Institute, which will operate under your joint 
leadership, should cooperate and consult with all interested parties, 
including other Federal agencies and offices--particularly, the 
Environmental Protection Agency, the National Partnership for 
Reinventing Government, and the Office of Science and Technology 
Policy--State and local agencies focusing on research and public health, 
and on consumers, producers, industry, and academia. The Institute 
should make special efforts to build on efforts of the private sector, 
through the use of public-private partnerships or other appropriate 
    These steps, taken together and in coordination with our pending 
legislation, will ensure to the fullest extent possible the safety of 
food for all of America's families.

                                                      William J. Clinton

Note: This memorandum was made available by the Office of the Press 
Secretary on July 3 but was embargoed for release until 10:06 a.m. on 
July 4.