With the Food Safety Modernization Act adding new audits, procedures and practices with the enforcement power of the U.S. federal government, produce industry trade associations and other groups representing food, are asking Congress to provide adequate funding for food-safety measures.
On March 15, 21 organizations sent a letter to the top two budget writers in the U.S. House, as well as the U.S. Senate, making that request.
The Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association and Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association were among the letter’s signatories.
The letter — addressed to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, as well as their respective counterparts in the Senate, Thad Cochran and Patrick Leahy — asked for “continued support for appropriate funding for the (FDA) food safety budget” for fiscal 2017.
“Congress has done a lot to fund FDA for FSMA, but in this new regulatory atmosphere, the industry in general and PMA want to make sure FDA has sufficient funding to maintain consumer confidence,” said Kathy Means, PMA’s vice president of industry relations. “It’s important that FDA be adequately funded to do things that are important to FSMA, whether it’s technical assistance, infrastructure they need or training for their people.”
The organizations said funding for food-safety efforts has been adequate to this point, but want to ensure that continues through the FSMA rollout.
“We recognize and appreciate the substantial investments Congress has already made to ensure that FDA is on track to implement the (FSMA) in a timely and efficient manner,” according to the letter. “As you know, FSMA encompasses sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws and requires a new approach from FDA. The fundamental goal of FSMA — to implement modernized practices across the industry, and as a result, ensure a safer food supply — will inspire consumer confidence in our products and eliminate unnecessary risks that threaten the public’s health.”
Prevention of foodborne illness is the cornerstone of the new regulations, and the FDA now has new authority to enforce provisions, so it’s important for Congress to ensure FDA has the tools it needs, according to the letter.
Other signers of the letter were the American Frozen Food Institute; Campbell Soup Co.; Costco Wholesale; Grocery Manufacturers Association; the Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association; and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.