The budget proposal, which will cover the period from 1 October 2012 to 30 September 2013, includes an increase of $253m to “build a strong, reliable food safety system” through the Transforming Food Safety Initiative.
The initiative includes $10m in resources for the FDA to enhance collaboration with Chinese food safety counterparts and increase its presence in the country.
The FDA is also proposing a new food facility registration user fee that would account for $220m of the budget increase.
The request is part of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget.
The agency is requesting an overall budget of $4.5bn, which reflects a 17% increase on 2012. It would cover medical product development, protect patients and ensure the safety of the food supply.
China import safety
The production of goods regulated by the FDA has increased significantly in the past ten years, with China contributing a “large and growing volume of imported food and food ingredients.”
“With this FY 2013 initiative, FDA will increase its capacity to detect and address risks of food and food ingredients manufactured in China and to assure that these products do not result in harm to Americans,” said the Fiscal Year (FY) Food and Drug Administration Congressional Justification document.
The initiative will place greater responsibility on the Chinese food processing and packaging industry to ensure that foods imported into the US are safe and meet FDA standards.
FoodQualityNews.com reported earlier this month that 51% of all food processing and packaging inspection in mainland China failed.
“The result will be fewer import safety emergencies, less foodborne illness and earlier identification of safety problems associated with food and food ingredients manufactured in China.”
“Without this initiative, FDA will not have the resources to adequately identify and address risks associated with foods imported from China. Not funding the initiative could result in preventable harm to patients in America,” the report added.
Reduce costly outbreaks
According to the agency, the initiative will reduce the 2m annual cases of domestically acquired foodborne illness.
It will also boost the agency’s ability to identify sources of risk in the food safety system and reduce the time required to detect and respond to outbreaks.
“Outbreaks caused by contamination in the food and feed supply are costly to all – to consumers, to the food and feed industries, and to the health care industry,” said the report.
A 2012 study put the cost of US foodborne illnesses per year at $77.7bn.
“The resources in this initiative will promote public health in the United States by increasing the safety of America’s food supply.”
“Not funding this initiative will continue the pattern of recurring outbreaks and health risks from domestic and imported food, with the resulting disruptions to the food system and the economic burdens that result from foodborne outbreaks,” the FDA document added.