FDA requests budget for food security

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fda Influenza Food and drug administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced its
monetary proposal for fiscal 2007 with security again at the top of
the food agenda, while preparing for the potential threat of avian
'flu takes top overall priority.

The government regulatory agency on Monday submitted its 2007 fiscal year budget request to Congress, which totaled $1.95 billion.

The request, which is 3.8 percent higher than the 2006 level, covers the period of October 1 2006 to September 30 2007.

According to Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, the FDA's acting commissioner of food and drugs, the agency's request is "fiscally responsible and it strengthens the FDA's vital mission of advancing medical and other health-promoting products while protecting the public from such persistent and emerging risks as food borne illnesses, chronic diseases, pandemic flu, and bioterrorism."

The FDA has asked for almost $20 million for food defense, in order to be able to protect the nation's food supply in the event of a terrorist attack.

The agency said it plans to use the money to expand the network of laboratories that would "rapidly and competently analyze food samples,"​ a move that it hopes will "substantially enhance the FDA's capacity to detect and effectively respond to intentional contamination of our food."

"As part of this effort, the FDA will also expand its program of targeted food defense research,"​ it said.

Indeed, last year food defense also formed a major part of the budget request, coming in at an increase of $30.1 million. The so-called food defense program is part of a collaborative effort by the FDA, the USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the White House Homeland Security Council.

Top priorities last year had included the expansion of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) -which Congress funded in fiscal 2005 - and the construction of 19 state laboratories capable of analyzing thousands of food samples for biological, chemical and radiological threat agents.

The FDA had said that the increase in funding would also support research related to prevention/mitigation technologies, tamper proof packaging, rapid test methods, and/or agent sensor technologies.

In this year's budget calculations, the highest amount of funding has been allocated to preparing for the potential threat of pandemic influenza.

The $30.5 million requested for this purpose will contribute towards producing influenza vaccines and developing measures to address the potential pandemic-related impacts on FDA-regulated food and animal feed.

A further $20 million is expected to contribute towards ensuring that the FDA-regulated food for the family table is "safe and wholesome,"​ while $25.5 million has been allocated to two new proposed sets of user fees.

The first, estimated at $22,000,000, would pay the full cost of reinspection and other FDA follow-up work if manufacturers fail to meet FDA requirements such as Good Manufacturing Practices. The second new user fee, estimated at $3,536,000, would cover the cost of issuing an estimated 37,000 food and animal feed export certificates, said the FDA.

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