FDA Budget Boosts Food Safety At A Cost To Existing Programs
This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet
President Bush's fiscal 2009 budget request includes establishing FDA facilities in foreign countries, starting with China, among its proposals for the agency's new food safety programs and initiatives
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Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt lays out a timeline Oct. 16 for opening and staffing foreign FDA offices to work with local authorities and industries that export to the U.S. China will be first, with FDA staffers slated to begin in Beijing by the end of 2008 and other offices opening in Shanghai and Guangzhou next year. FDA also will open an office in New Delhi, India, in 2008. "Opening these offices will mark a key milestone in the globalization of our efforts to enhance the safety of imported food and medical products," Leavitt says. Working closely with foreign regulators is a large component of FDA's Import Safety Action Plan, but dietary supplement industry stakeholders have warned that overseas offices will siphon resources from other agency programs (1"The Tan Sheet" Oct. 13, 2008, p. 12 and 2"The Tan Sheet" Feb. 11, 2008, p. 3)
FDA would receive a $2.04 billion appropriation for fiscal 2009, including $660.5 million for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and related field activities, according to a bill the Senate Appropriations Committee passed July 17. The appropriation also includes $409.8 million for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and related field activities, The total funding in the bill would give FDA $324.6 million more than the agency received this year, and $5.2 million more than the Bush administration's request (1"The Tan Sheet" Feb. 11, 2008, p. 3). The committee recommended $155.2 million for food safety activities, including opening FDA offices overseas to improve import safety. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee included an additional $275 million for FDA in its fiscal 2009 appropriation for a total of $2.1 billion in direct funding for the agency, but the House Appropriations Committee has yet to sign off on the funding (2"The Tan Sheet" June 23, 2008, p. 5)...
The Government Accountability Office cites significant cost savings in its endorsement of FDA's risk-based approach to import safety inspections, but says the agency has yet to deliver on plans for tightening its protection of the U.S. food supply