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Congress should fund a program to consolidate and improve existing federal efforts at the FDA, CDC, and USDA to use IT to modernize food safety and public health data.

Policymakers should recognize the important role that information technology (IT) can and should play in improving public safety and health by making available real-time data on food products from farm to fork. Most of the pieces of the puzzle are already here, although some, like electronic health records are still in development. However, we need national leadership to focus on connecting the pieces. requiring the relevant federal agencies to create common formats to facilitate information sharing among laboratories, improve recordkeeping to allow faster tracking and tracing of contaminated food, and further develop and improve surveillance systems to more rapidly detect and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks.