Lack of funding stalls CDC food safety centers

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Foodborne illness, Epidemiology, Cdc

Lack of funding stalls CDC food safety centers
Lack of federal funding has stalled the CDC’s establishment of five dedicated Food Safety Centers of Excellence, as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was directed to designate five Food Safety Centers of Excellence under the requirements of FSMA, no later than a year after the bill was signed into law on January 4, 2011, and to deliver its first progress report on the centers’ effectiveness by January 2013.

However, according to a CIDRAP report​, the CDC had appointed an independent working group to make recommendations for the centers, but it told the working group in a memo that it had reviewed its 2012 budget and did not have enough targeted funds to establish them. The centers are expected to cost about $2.75m.

Food safety expert at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health Craig Hedberg told CIDRAP that the CDC’s memo included details of other actions the agency would take to strengthen food safety, such as strengthening and modernizing PulseNet, which analyzes DNA subtypes of various pathogens identified in laboratories across the United States. The agency said it would also develop foodborne illness outbreak tracing materials and standardized questionnaires for use in illness investigations, through existing programs.

Despite the current funding gap, the CDC said it would prepare for the centers in case funding does become available in 2012 or 2013, according to CIDRAP.

FSMA was originally expected to cost about $1.4bn over five years to implement, but funding has been restricted amid generalized federal budget restraints.

Under FSMA, the CDC had been directed to set up the five centers at state health departments to identify and implement best practices in foodborne diseases surveillance and to serve as a resource for public health professionals at state, local and regional levels.

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