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FDA secures additional funds for food safety program

After lobbying from an alliance of consumer advocates and industry groups, Congress increased the US Food and Drug Administration's funding by nearly 3% from last year’s level to US$3.8 billion, according to an article in the Washington Post. Of all the additional money FDA secured, the new food safety program received the largest amount of US$39 million.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Frozen Food Institute, the Snack Food Association and the Produce Marketing Association were among many food industry groups to support an advertisement sponsored by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. The ad aimed to show why FDA should receive the additional funds, saying that “a science-based and predictable FDA” helps industry to innovate and create high-paying jobs, and that FDA-regulated products account for more than 20% of US consumer spending.

“We’re competing with manufacturers all over the world,” said Scott Faber, vice president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Maintaining and burnishing FDA’s reputation helps us open doors in those markets.”

In response to a number of recalls, Congress adopted the Food Safety Modernization Act in late 2010, which gives FDA more power to prevent foodborne illnesses instead of just reacting to them. The Act mandates increased petfood processing plant inspections, among other things that will require more FDA hires and create the need for additional funding.

“You need to put controls in place, validate their effectiveness and monitor that they’re actually working over time,” said Mike Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “That’s a system that’s evolved in the food industry but has been adopted piecemeal.”

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