FDA Seeks $1.4 Billion for Food-Safety Law as Budget Faces Cuts

Publication: Bloomberg

Author: Molly Peterson and Alan Bjerga


07/06/2011 - The Food and Drug Administration, charged with preventing E. coli outbreaks similar to the one that sickened thousands in Europe, is trying to wedge $1.4 billion for a new food-safety law into a budget that Republicans have already cut for next year.

A vote in the Republican-controlled House last month to reduce the FDA’s fiscal 2012 food-safety budget by 10 percent to $752 million, the agency estimates, will slow the law’s progress if enacted, say supporters of the January legislation. Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who oversees the budgets of the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said increases are unneccessary because the food supply is “99.9 percent safe."

That view may be short-sighted, given the type of epidemic in Europe, said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents food poisoning victims. The outbreak among those who ate German-grown sprouts was deadlier than earlier E. coli epidemics because it combined traits of two strains, raising risks for a potentially fatal kidney complications.

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Faster traceability will reduce costs for companies linked to outbreaks, said Erik Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Health Group in Washington.

“The better the traceback system is, the more companies will save when there are recalls,” Olson said. “If they can wall off just a very limited number of shipments that are contaminated, that means the vast majority of the food can continue to be consumed and will not recalled.”

Read the full article, FDA Seeks $1.4 Billion for Food-Safety Law as Budget Faces Cuts, on Bloomberg's Web site.

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