The Food Safety Modernization Act Needs Proper Funding

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By Kara Kelber on Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Congress and the FDA can help prevent foodborne illness before it reaches the consumer

This year, one in six Americans will get sick from foodborne diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to nearly 50 million people, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations, and, tragically, 3,000 deaths.

A salmonella outbreak from contaminated peanut butter in 2008 and 2009 is a startling example, killing nine and sickening hundreds of people across the country. Just this year, the owner of the facility that produced those peanut products—and who knew they were contaminated—is expected to serve jail time after being convicted for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other crimes connected to the outbreak.

But what if these deadly outbreaks could be prevented before they strike thousands, rather than trying to minimize the damage from contaminations after they’ve harmed consumers?

That’s the goal of two new key food safety rules recently released by the Food and Drug Administration. The rules, part of the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act enacted in 2011, require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans identifying possible safety problems and to outline steps to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of these events.

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has long championed the Food Safety Modernization Act—a groundbreaking law designed to bring an outdated food-safety system in to the 21st century. And we think these two final rules, the first of seven major Food Safety Modernization Act rules to be finalized by 2016, are important steps in making our food supply safer.

Rather than reacting to foodborne illness outbreaks after consumers have fallen ill, food producers and the FDA will work together to prevent contamination on the front end. This not only will better protect our food supply, but also improve public health as a whole.

These rules have been a long time coming and we applaud the FDA for finalizing them. But we’ll only see the full, life-saving potential if the FDA has enough funding to properly implement them. Unfortunately, funding bills in both houses of Congress fall far short of what is needed.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed following string of contaminations of common foods such as eggs, spinach, and peanut products. But it shouldn’t take another salmonella or E. coli outbreak to get lawmakers to make food safety a priority.

It’s time for Congress to step up and provide the FDA the funding it needs to implement these rules. We’re committed to working with lawmakers to ensure the FDA can do its work to keep our food safe, but they need to hear from you too. Contact your lawmakers today and tell them to support the FDA.

This originally appeared on ConsumerReports.org as part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. Read past installments of our Policy & Action feature.

23 responses to “The Food Safety Modernization Act Needs Proper Funding”

  1. Congress come on! Protect us. Fund FDA

  2. Sheila Litton says:

    We are fortunate to have one of the safest food supplies in the world but if the FDA does not have the resources to oversee the regulations, safety will be compromised. Congress must recognize that providing adequate funding for the FDA is paramount to protecting its citizens’ health and maintenance of the food supply.

  3. Cesar Diaz says:

    Congress should do its job and give enough funding to the FDA in order to work properly. To realize that the U.S. Congress does not provide enough funding to agencies that truly matter is just a shame.

  4. FDA has to be fully funded.

  5. Ed Kinnaird says:

    Congress should fund the FDA and do their jobs to protect the American people.

  6. Joy kobalchick says:

    Fund the FDA for our health and the future of this country.

  7. Ray Bennett says:

    Our representatives should be representing us, not the corporations. Fund the FDA.

  8. Steven Iszauk says:

    The FDA needs adequate funding to enforce the regulations to keep our food supply safe.

  9. Bert Bowe says:

    It’s just common sense that our country should provide significant food safety protection for its citizens. This is a role of government, and you can be sure that many businesses will not do this voluntarily (it may cost money after all).

    I’m sick of conservatives saying we should let the marketplace drive improvements – as in if enough people get sick or die eating certain food, people will not buy it. We even had our NC Senator Tillis saying there shouldn’t be restaurant regulations requiring employees to wash hands after using the bathroom! What nonsense.

    The Food Safety Modernization Act needs to be adequately funded, period!

  10. Linda says:

    Echoing Paul Burck’s comment…”I rely on the FDA to look out for the safety of me and my family. Too often I read or hear about how they fall short because of inadequate funding. This must stop! The U.S. government needs to keep public safety at the fore or it’s not working right.”

  11. Linda says:

    Let me echo Paul Burck’s comment: “I rely on the FDA to look out for the safety of me and my family. Too often I read or hear about how they fall short because of inadequate funding. This must stop! The U.S. government needs to keep public safety at the fore or it’s not working right.”

  12. Jack Riley says:

    Without a doubt, the only way to assure the general public that the food they buy is healthy and free of contaminates is by Inspection. The only authority able to enforce the laws already on the books is (are) agencies of the federal government, through inspections, etc.. Obviously it requires funding for the resources to effectively carry out this mission, therefore, I feel it is incumbent on Congress to provide this funding so that there will be fewer incidents of spreading disease or otherwise unwholesome food throughout the country.

  13. The FDA must be provided adequate funding enabling it to properly protect our food.

  14. Paul Burck says:

    I rely on the FDA to look out for the safety of me and my family. Too often I read or hear about how they fall short because of inadequate funding. This must stop! The U.S. government needs to keep public safety at the fore or it’s not working right.

  15. Rob Smith says:

    I am a provider of food grade additives/preservatives to the seafood industry. My products, when used properly and judiciously, help retain shelf life and quality. There are seafood companies using additives/preservatives that are not labeled properly on packaging or not labeled at all, which, according to FDA, is economic fraud and/or adulteration which violates the Food Drug & Cosmetic Law. When I confront FDA regarding these issues the response, uniformly is, IF IT IS NOT A FOOD SAFETY ISSUE IT IS NOT A PRIORITY. The response is a direct result of lack of funding and manpower to enforce the laws on the books. Consumers need to know what is in their food to protect themselves against potential allergens and to be properly informed. 80% of the seafood consumed in the US is imported yet only 2% is inspected. FUNDING AND MANPOWER is the culprit. Congress, you need to step up to the plate as your own family, and the US population, is in jeopardy.

  16. Ern Beyer says:

    FDA needs adequate funding to protect consumers.

  17. Jon E Soskis says:

    Let’s get this priority right…

  18. Howard Bandell says:

    Congress should not skimp when it comes to public safety.
    They should fully fund the FDA and not think by not doing so that they are somehow promoting jobs and big business. No, they are saving business’s from giant recalls, and people from harm and possible death.

  19. John C. Wiesner says:

    Food safety for U.S. consumers should not be optional, nor should it be sacrificed in the name of corporate profits. Congress should adequately fund the FDA, to enable the agency to put the proper number of inspectors in the field and to conduct proper investigations. The record shows that leaving food safety standards solely to the growers, providers and manufacturers is a continuing disaster.

    The FDA MUST be fully funded.

  20. Congress need to Fund the FDA to prevent out breaks of food poisoning and get Azodicabonamide out of using for whiting agent in flour

  21. Robert Crouse says:

    It is not enough for congress to pass laws it also needs to provide the funds to enforce those laws even if that means some kind of tax or fee. Perhaps a heavy fine to industries that do not comply with current laws and not wait for contamination to trigger the fines. Republicans [I am one] need to understand that big business puts profit before anything else and take action/responsibility.

  22. I am worried everyday about the safety of the food I eat.
    I cannot understand the complacency of the American people in thinking that it is alright to eat just anything they see and want.

    I try to buy healthy food but I want the government to regulate the food safety so it is easier to do. Proper funding is the way to go, if the politicians cared about the people as much as they care about gaining money for themselves.

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