Letter to Congress: Critical Time to Increase FDA Food Safety Funding

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A coalition of consumer groups are calling on Congress for a substantial increase in funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that the agency can implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. In a letter to the chairmen and the ranking members of the subcommittees that allocate funding to FDA, the organizations stressed the critical need for additional resources in fiscal year 2015 to build a prevention-focused safety system that reduces foodborne illnesses.

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April 28, 2014

The Honorable Robert B. Aderholt, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
House Committee on Appropriations
2264 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Mark Pryor, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Senate Committee on Appropriations
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Sam Farr, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
House Committee on Appropriations
1126 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Roy Blunt, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies Senate Committee on Appropriations
260 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairmen Aderholt and Pryor and Ranking Members Farr and Blunt:

As you determine funding levels for FY2015, we are writing to underscore the fact that, at this critical point in the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the agency needs a substantial increase in funding to make the promise of a safe food supply a reality.

FDA has made significant progress in the past two years in implementing FSMA, having released seven sets of proposed regulations. While it is required by court order to finalize these rules by 2016, the agency has also made a commitment to re-proposing for further comment some of the more complex aspects of these regulations, including standards for agricultural water quality in the produce safety rule and testing requirements in the preventive controls rule for food facilities.

However, implementing a new law means more than just finalizing the regulations; it requires changes in operations. FDA must hire subject-matter experts to help growers and food processors comply with new requirements; retrain inspectors who will ensure compliance with the new preventive control requirements for food facilities: and build a comprehensive food import safety oversight system, including the new foreign supplier verification system, enhanced foreign facility inspections, and assistance to importing countries in ensuring that their food safety requirements are comparable to ours.

In order to build this new food safety oversight system, the President's FY2015 budget included more than $263,000,000 for FSMA implementation. While the overwhelming percentage of these dollars were to be collected as industry fees, it is clear that such fees will not be put in place for FY2015. Nevertheless, FDA's need for a substantial increase in its food safety funding is no less critical now that it must be provided through appropriations.

FDA has used the additional funding for FSMA implementation provided by your committees over the past three years to begin to put in place the measures that have the promise of substantially reducing foodborne illnesses in this country. However, this progress will be halted without substantial additional resources. Your action in the FY2015 funding bill is pivotal to the ultimate success of a law that is a priority for the American public.

Sincerely,

Center for Foodborne Illness, Research & Prevention
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union
Food & Water Watch
National Consumers League
The Pew Charitable Trusts
STOP Foodborne Illness