FDA wants industry help to fund food safety law - The Packer

FDA wants industry help to fund food safety law

10/10/2012 05:07:00 PM
Tom Karst

The Food and Drug Administration’s leader suggested in a recent speech the food industry should pay more to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, but so far that trial balloon hasn’t lifted off.

Speaking in early October at a Washington D.C. think tank, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg promised the agency would release food safety regulations “very soon” but said implementation has been lagging because of insufficient funding from Congress.

HamburgHamburg’s remarks to the Center for Strategic and International Studies were summarized in a report by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. Hamburg said FDA’s resources and responsibilities are badly mismatched and said private industry should help finance the law’s provisions, according to story about the speech from Reuters.

Hamburg said there has been a transformation in the agency’s responsibilities from mostly U.S.-centered to a global role. Hamburg pointed out that nearly two-thirds of fruits and vegetables eaten in the U.S. come from another country, according to the alliance summary of her remarks.

Industry leaders say the lack of specifics makes it difficult to respond about possible costs to fruit and vegetable grower-shippers.

“We would want to have a better understanding of exactly what they are proposing in regard to fees,” said Dennis Nuxoll, vice president of federal government affairs in the Washington, D.C., office of Western Growers. He said any proposal would have to have clear benefit for producers.

David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said Congress bears the responsibility for giving the FDA funding it needs. He said the Food Safety Modernization Act authorized fees for reinspections and fines for refusing to do a mandatory recall, and the FDA has already implemented both of those fees.

“If Congress wants FDA to undergo a significant change in how they regulate food safety, then Congress should also appropriate the funds to do that,” Gombas said. “That shouldn’t be coming out of industry.”

Erik Olson, food program director for the Pew Charitable Trusts, told Reuters that the agency’s $866 million food safety budget may need hundreds of millions more to pay for inspectors and scientists needed to meet the law’s new mandates.

Gombas said FDA activities for the general good of public health should come from the FDA general budget, not industry fees.

The new food safety law will add oversight responsibilities of about 100,000 farms to the FDA, Gombas said.

“You are going to need some way of enforcing a regulation that covers those 100,000 (farms),” he said.

Congress should address the discrepancy between how the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service is funded compared with the FDA, Gombas said. Among other foods, the FSIS polices meat products; the FDA handles food safety issues for fruits and vegetables.

“FDA should be getting a much larger share of the pie,” he said. “The reality is that if Congress wants the FDA to regulate all these different foods, they need to give them the resources to do it.”



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Ray Webb    
USA  |  October, 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM

How about charging every facility that operates under insanitary and unsafe conditions from dairy to meat, fish to feed, produce poultry $1000; additional the re-inspection fees. That would help in many ways, spill hundreds of millions in the FDA account to hire more inspectors, reduce recall costs (if the supply chain would spend the money they pay for recalls for FDA inspectors, we probably would have safer food) and that helps the government saving health care cost. For imports they have to check on the port of entries and importers need to have all records about growing conditions, sanitation prevention practices, tests for foodborne pathogens and will responsible to pay for the inspection. It can't be FDA people travel in every last corner in the world where food or feed is produced cheap and sold high for consumption in USA. Retailers require from US farmers expensive useless certifications for thousands of dollars every year. Why don't they pay for an FDA inspector? Pretty much every recalled product had some type of certification, so what is it good for to spend all the money in the wrong place?

Tom    
October, 15, 2012 at 06:16 PM

We will have 10 dollar head of lettuce very soon and it won't be any safer. Why don't you just tell the consumer to wash his food before consumption. That will solve the problem of any type of contamination that gets past the already burdensome regulations of food production. The consumer has to take some responsibility for his own safety. The farm can only do so much given that they have no control over it after it leaves there facility. If the consumer would wash his food we wouldn't need a billion dollars worth Of inspectors running around fining everyone to collect more money.

Ben    
USA  |  October, 16, 2012 at 03:16 PM

Tom, this is the new blame game to the consumer. I just read the lettuce industry is telling the consumer NOT to wash the bagged stuff, because it is so clean. If you can explain how to wash listeria out of a melon, then let us now. But I agree with Ray, dirty and filthy operations should be charged with fines to finance the food safety bill. If inspectors don't find anything in your operation you don't have to be worried about anything. As we can see on daily recalls the industry is not doing enough for food safety. Here is an investigative article by Bloomberg News: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-11/food-sickens-millions-as-industry-paid-inspectors-find-it-safe.html

Caleb Burgin    
Plant city  |  October, 16, 2012 at 06:42 PM

HAHA Yea charge those evil Farmers And Handlers More for inspections The only problem with this whole Premiss. Is the same bureaucracy That will be inspecting farms to see if your out of codes that the bureaucracy makes up. Will be using the money they collect to fund themselves. And you don't see a problem with that HOW? As for personal responsibility with the food you put in your mouth, the #1 global killer of people is starvation. So why, How are we even having this discussion when we have the fattest country in the world. Also Tom while you and your other commie buddies are excepting new ways to put american farmers out of Business ask your self one thing. When there all gone because they have been sued or taxed out of business how will you then insure food safety when all the food is being produced across the border in another sovereign Nation where we have no jurisdiction to enforce our laws.

Caleb Burgin    
October, 16, 2012 at 06:49 PM

Sorry I that second line was directed at Ben not Tom I apologize

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