F.D.A. proposed budget viewed as inadequate

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, announced it is requesting almost $2.4 billion to protect and promote public health as a part of the president’s fiscal year 2009 budget. This represents a 5.7% increase over the budget for the current year and includes $42.2 million for protecting the food supply. Some industry groups are saying the increases are not enough.

"The president’s proposal to increase F.D.A. food-related spending by $32 million does little more than cover the cost of inflation and falls short of what is ultimately needed to make certain F.D.A. has the tools it needs to get the job done," said Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. "However, we are confident that Congress will provide the necessary resources to rebuild F.D.A.’s scientific capacity

"America enjoys the world’s safest food supply, but rising imports and changing consumer preferences pose new challenges for the food industry and for the F.D.A. Like national defense, highways and bridges, food safety is a benefit every American has a right to expect. We urge the administration and Congress to increase F.D.A. funding from general revenue and reject any new food taxes — especially at a time of economic uncertainty."

The F.D.A. said the increases in the budget will allow the agency to focus on the most important food defense and food safety issues throughout the entire life cycle of foods and that the F.D.A. will devote more workforce and resources to food production and handling sites in 2009.

The proposed budget is for the period of Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009, and includes $1.77 billion in budget authority and $628 million in industry user fees.

"Three independent reviews, including the F.D.A.’s own Science Board, have determined the F.D.A. is in critical need of significant new resources," said William Hubbard, spokesperson for the Alliance for a Stronger F.D.A. and former deputy commissioner at the F.D.A. "The amount in the administration’s proposed budget is not only inadequate, it is barely half of what F.D.A. needs just to keep pace with inflation.

The F.D.A.’s ability to fulfill its mission could be in serious jeopardy if additional increases aren’t enacted. This proposed budget would likely force the agency into further staff decreases at a time when it is urgent to increase staff."

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