05/30/2011 - Budget cuts proposed by House Republicans to the Food and Drug Administration would undermine the agency’s ability to carry out a historic food-safety law passed by Congress just five months ago, food safety advocates say.
The legislation, passed in December, is the first major change to the nation’s food-safety laws since 1938. It calls for the FDA to significantly step up scrutiny of domestic and imported food and devise a new system aimed at preventing the kind of contamination that sickens one in six Americans every year.
The law, which received bipartisan support, followed years of cutbacks at the FDA and waves of national food-borne illnesses linked to foods as varied as spinach, peanuts and cookie dough.
The proposed budget cuts would also hinder the FDA’s ability to increase scrutiny of imported foods, according to food safety advocates. The new law requires the FDA to create a system of third-party certifiers to ensure that food coming into the United States meets the same safety standards as food produced domestically. Without additional funding, the FDA cannot create that system, said Erik Olson, director of food and consumer product safety programs at the Pew Health Group, part of a coalition of public health advocates and food makers.
“These cuts could seriously harm our ability to protect the food supply,” said Olson, who is hoping the money will be restored by the Senate, which has not proposed its spending plan.
Read the full article Food Safety Advocates Decry FDA Cuts on the Washington Post's Web site.