There is a growing chorus of support for increased FDA funding. The FDA’s own Science Board, through its Subcommittee on Science and Technology, recently found that primarily due to a lack of appropriate resources, the “scientific demands on the FDA far exceed its capacity to respond.”
Findings of “FDA Science and Mission at Risk: Report of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology,” prepared for the FDA Science Board, included:
Consumers at Risk. The Food and Drug Administration is so under-funded and understaffed that it''s putting U.S. consumers at risk in terms of food and drug safety,
Inspectors. The most glaring is that the FDA lost 600 inspectors in the past four years, making the agency unable to protect the country''s food supply. And the FDA''s responsibilities have grown, rendering the agency ineffective
Inspections. In the past 35 years, FDA inspections of the food supply have dropped 78% due to soaring numbers of products and inadequate FDA funding.
FDA needs a 15% boost in funding per year for the next five years.
The Alliance for a Stronger FDA is calling for a $380 million increase for the FDA budget in FY 2009, of which $150 million is for food safety and related activities, and an additional $100 million to be directed to the modernization of the agency’s critical information technology systems.
FDA’s resources for food safety have been eroded at a time when food imports have dramatically increased. The FDA’s ability to protect us the public health has been severely eroded. No better example of this erosion exists than in the food safety area.
Today, the FDA is in charge of 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, yet its limited resources only allow the agency to inspect less than one percent of the imported food that it is responsible for monitoring. The volume of FDA-regulated imports has doubled in the last five years, and 60 percent of these imported shipments are food.
The Food Safety Program was almost half of FDA’s budget in the 1970s, but today is only about one quarter. FDA’s food safety budget was $407 million in 2003. If the agency had received sufficient funding since then just to stay even with inflation, the food safety appropriation for this year would be $626 million. But it was actually $450 million, which means that the agency lost $176 million in buying power for food safety in recent years. The result has been a loss of 20% of its food scientists, and over 600 inspectors, during that time.
At the very same time that imports of foods into the U.S. have increased dramatically, the number of employees at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) has declined from 910 in FY 2004 to 782 in FY 2007. This increase in food imports combined with a reduction in scientists, nutritionists and food security experts at CFSAN has left America’s food safety infrastructure vulnerable to outbreaks of E.Coli, salmonella and tainted pet food.
Did You Know?
- The FDA oversees 80 percent of the nation''s food supply, but only recieves 20 percent of food safety funding?
- HACCP (Harzard Analysis and Critical Control Point) was originally developed for NASA to ensure the safety of food for consumption in space?
- The FDA''s entire budget is actually less than the budget for the school system in Montgomory County, MD, where FDA resides?
- Some in Congress would impose "User Fees" on Food Companies as a way to increase FDA''s budget. Such "fees" are really just new taxes on food and would undoubtedly be passed through to the consumer by way of higher food prices.
- Current customs law already requires the importers of finished, packaged products, seafood, and some bulk foods to include country of origin labeling on the package. Beginning in 2008, fresh fruits and vegetables imported into the U.S. will also need to display their country of origin.