After the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill that fell short of providing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the resources it needs to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today vowed to continue working to fully fund the effort. An amendment – offered by Durbin – that would have increased funding for food safety activities by nearly $69 million failed along party lines to receive the votes needed to be included in the final bill.
“The food safety allocation in this bill, falls short of what is needed to reduce foodborne illness in this country,” said Durbin. “I am hopeful that as this funding bill moves through the appropriations process, we can work across the aisle to increase the funding for FDA’s implement the Food Safety Modernization Act – a law that enjoys broad support from a diverse group of stakeholders.”
An announcement this morning by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that Aspen Foods is recalling nearly 2 million pounds of frozen food that may be contaminated with Salmonella highlighted the need for increased vigilance. Every year, infections from deadly pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria lead to an estimated 48 million illnesses and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. – with an annual price tag of $70 billion.
FDA estimates that it needs a total of $276 million in additional funding to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. The President’s budget, which requested an increase of $109.5 million over FY15, would help close this funding gap by enabling FDA to retrain thousands of inspectors in the new prevention-based oversight system; provide technical assistance to more than 300,000 industry stakeholders; and build a new food import oversight system. The spending bill approved today by the Appropriations Committee included only $45 million in additional funding for implementing FSMA.