A new report finds the U.S.. Food and Drug Administration needs to beef up its staffing, its technology and its business model to combat food-borne illnesses before they occur.
From the farmer to food manufacturers, suppliers and grocers the things we eat often pass through a number of hands before they reach the dinner table.
In recent years high-profile bacterial outbreaks have occurred in foods like spinach, peppers and peanuts.
Food-borne illnesses sicken 76 million people in the U.S.. Each year and kill thousands.
A panel of independent law and food safety experts has outlined steps to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration.
"The FDA should use risk assessment and management tactics, but the agency's approach is often now too reactive and lacks a systematic focus on prevention," noted committee chair Dr. Robert Wallace.
The report also calls for additional inspectors to close the gaps in food safety.
75 percent of our seafood comes from foreign countries, but the FDA inspects less than two percent of imported food.
The FDA also doesn't have the power to order recalls when contamination is found.
Currently all food recalls are considered voluntary.
"We want to see mandatory recall in the law so that if the FDA ever has to use it, if push comes to shove, then in fact they'll be able to do that," said Dr. Wallace.
It's not a quick or easy fix and would require the passage of food reform legislation.
Congress would need to authorize more power for the FDA and figure out how to pay for it, something its been debating for years.
Right now dozens of agencies oversee food safety.
The report calls for the FDA to become the single most authoritative source on food supply issues.