The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data (2011)
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the regulatory agency in the US Department of Agriculture that is responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and processed egg products produced domestically or imported into the United States are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. FSIS collects a voluminous amount of data in support of its regulatory functions, but the two major types of FSIS data that are currently being considered for public release are sampling and testing data (derived from standard laboratory tests) and inspection and enforcement data (derived from text written by inspectors). Some of those data are already released to the public in aggregated form but not in disaggregated, establishment-specific form. In recent years, the Obama administration has implemented measures to facilitate openness in government, including the requirement that federal agencies publish information online and provide public access to information in a timely manner; in a form that can be easily retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched with tools that are available on the Internet; and without the need for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The Potential Consequences of Public Release of Food Safety and Inspection Service Establishment-Specific Data examines the potential food-safety benefits and other consequences of making establishment-specific data publicly available on the Internet. The report includes how factors such as level of aggregation, timing of release, level of completeness, and characterization of the data or context in which the data are presented might affect their utility in improving food safety. The report also examines potential ways that food-safety benefits and other effects of publicly posting the data might be measured.