Vital Food Safety Priorities Need Additional Funding

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate committees on appropriations approved their respective agriculture appropriations bills for fiscal year 2016, allocating discretionary funds to food, agriculture, and health-related agencies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had requested $109.5 million in additional funding from Congress for implementation of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). When fully implemented, FSMA will apply new measures to reduce contamination throughout the food supply and update inspection protocols. FSMA includes prevention-based requirements for three priority areas: processed foods, fresh produce, and food imports.

Though confined by budgetary caps, the House and Senate approved new funding for FSMA, but both funding levels fall short of the agency’s request and will not enable the FDA to fully implement all three of its priorities.

The House allocated $41.5 million for food safety, while the Senate granted $45 million. If the FDA does not receive the level of discretionary funding requested in the president's fiscal 2016 budget, it must prioritize spending by focusing on major activities associated with the rule on preventive controls for processed foods, then the produce safety regulations and finally the food import rule.

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reported multistate outbreaks of foodborne illness have been linked to FDA-regulated products since FSMA was enacted in 2011.

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