The Obama administration’s 2016 budget, released in early February, would increase FDA’s food safety budget by $109.5 million.
This is perhaps unsurprising, given that all of the major Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules are set to be finalized by the end of FY 2016.
The FDA website lists the following efforts that the requested funds would support:
- Inspection Modernization and Training – $25 million – FDA notes that FSMA changes the agency’s focus from reacting to food safety issues to preventing them in the first place. This shirt requires a more robust inspection approach, which would focus “on whether firms are implementing systems that effectively prevent food contamination,” which requires a larger and more highly-trained inspector pool.
- National Integrated Food Safety System – $32 million – FDA wishes to ensure successful collaboration among “the more than 3,000 state, local, and tribal government agencies involved in food safety.” Their efforts will include providing grants to state agencies and ensuring that states have real-time information sharing with both each other, and the FDA.
- Education and Technical Assistance for Industry – $11.5 million – FDA plans to “expend substantial financial resources” to provide assistance and training to entities subject to the new FSMA rules.
- Technical Staffing and Guidance Development at FDA – $4 million – FDA intends to increase its staff to meet increased inspection and oversight demands that result from the stricter FSMA standards.
- New Import Safety Systems – $25.5 million – FDA notes that 50% of fresh fruits, 20% of fresh vegetables, and 80% of seafood consumed by Americans is imported. FDA will implement the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), which is mandated by FSMA, and will “require importers to implement supplier verification plans to help ensure food produced overseas meets US food safety standards.”
- Risk Analytics and Evaluation – $4.5 million – FDA is developing new tools to rank risks, prioritize enforcement activities, and tie risk-based priorities with budget restrictions. For example, the agency could use these tools to determine which foods are most vulnerable to specific contaminants, , and where the agency should invest its research efforts to most effectively identify how to reduce contamination of food.
The budget also proposes consolidating USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA’s food-safety components into a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. This change “would provide focused, centralized leadership, a primary voice on food safety standards and compliance with those standards, and clear lines of responsibility and accountability that will enhance both prevention of and responses to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses,” according to the proposal.