Last week, Commissioner Margaret Hamburg defended the President’s FY 2016 budget request of $1.3 billion for the FDA— a $109.5 million increase to the food safety budget.
At the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Dr. Hamburg explained that this funding is important to continue the implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). Dr. Hamburg noted that additional funding is necessary for requisite training and technical assistance for expanded foreign and domestic oversight.
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), released a report concluding that FDA has fallen short of conducting the mandated number of foreign facility inspections under the FSMA. In part, FDA cited limited resources as the reason for this failure. FDA also suggested that an unnecessarily high number of inspections is required under the FSMA. GAO, however, criticized FDA for failing to address its recruitment challenges to meet FSMA obligations. GAO also questioned why FDA has not yet provided an analysis determining the proper amount of inspections with a recommendation to Congress, which could make any appropriate legislative changes.
Expanded foreign inspection capacity under FSMA is essential as US consumption of imported food has been increasing. For example, nine percent of all food consumed in the US was imported in 2000, but 16 percent in 2011, according to the report.