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FDA requests $4bn budget to ‘transform’ food safety

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 02-Feb-2010

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested $4.03bn for food safety and public health promotion as part of President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget – a 23 percent increase on 2010’s $3.3bn budget.

The request includes an additional $327m for food safety, a 30 percent boost to the current level of funding, which the FDA has said it would use for its Transforming Food Safety Initiative. The initiative includes proposals for new safety standards, traceability frameworks, import safety checks, and better risk analysis to establish “strengthened inspection and response capacity.” The proposals mirror some of those outlined in food safety legislation awaiting consideration in the Senate.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said: “The FY 2011 resources will strengthen our ability to act as a strong and smart regulator, protecting Americans through every stage of life, many times each day. This budget supports the ability for patients and families to realize the benefits of science that are yielding revolutionary advances in the life and biomedical sciences.”

The FDA said the budget request reflects its “resolve to transform food safety practices, improve medical product safety, protect patients and modernize FDA regulatory science to advance public health.”

US food safety made national headlines and climbed the political agenda last year after a multi-state outbreak of salmonella linked to peanut products sickened more than 700 people and killed nine, becoming the next in a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks to hit America.

Since then, strides have been taken in an effort to minimize the incidence of such outbreaks, and President Obama pledged a complete review of the FDA in January, saying that “at a bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter.”

The Food Safety Enhancement Act passed the House in July, and the Senate’s version of the bill, The Food Safety Modernization Act, has been reported by Committee and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

Eighteen industry and consumer representative organizations – including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association and the National Confectioners Association – sent a letter to Senate leadership late last month urging that a vote on the bill is scheduled as quickly as possible.

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