The majority of a $50m increase in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) funding for fiscal 2012 will go toward implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, after a lobbying group backed by several food industry trade associations played a key role in influencing negotiations.
The Alliance for a Stronger FDA – which is backed by industry groups including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Frozen Foods Institute, and the Snack Food Association – was a strong proponent of increased funds for the agency, which were finally agreed in an agriculture appropriations bill passed last month.
The FDA is responsible for the safety of about 80% of the US food supply. It was initially estimated that the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law on January 4 this year, would cost about $1.4bn over five years to implement. Of the $50m FDA funding boost, $39m will be specifically targeted toward measures required by the new law, such as employing about 2,000 additional inspectors and increasing the frequency of plant inspections.
Deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA Steven Grossman wrote on the group’s website: “In light of some recent years where FDA received sizable increases, a $50 million increase may not seem like much. But we faced (and survived) a $285 million cut that had passed the House. Further, FDA was one of only a handful of programs in the Agriculture/FDA appropriations bill cluster that received any increase. We applaud the Senate for proposing a $50 million increase for FDA … and we are grateful to the House for accepting this number rather than insisting on cuts.”
Uncertainty over funding provisions for the Food Safety Modernization Act has loomed over the bill, despite repeated bipartisan calls from industry and consumer groups – as well as the FDA itself – for adequate funding.
The Consumer Federation of America and Pew Food Safety Campaign also welcomed the funding increase.
Project director for the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign Sandra Eskin said: “This critical funding measure will shift the agency from primarily reacting to foodborne contamination incidents to preventing these dangerous outbreaks. The additional resources will also help FDA increase oversight of imported food and establish first-ever produce safety standards designed to avoid problems like the recent illnesses linked to Listeria in cantaloupes.”