Food industry urges Obama administration to reject food safety fees

Federal regulators — and advocates — however, often prefer user fees because they guarantee a dedicated revenue stream for their activities, particularly at a time when lawmakers are looking for ways to cut rather than increase government spending. Such user fees already pay for the Food and Drug Administration's oversight of medicines and medical devices.

The 2012 budget proposal requested $1.4 billion for food safety activities at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — an increase of $333 million over 2011 levels — while calling on Congress to "enact additional food safety fees to support the full implementation" of the 2011 Food Safety Act.

The user fees aimed to help the CDC "improve the speed and accuracy of foodborne illness outbreak detection and investigation, while FDA will focus on establishing produce safety standards and working with manufacturers to implement preventative controls in an effort."

The letter was spearheaded by the American Frozen Food Institute and includes major industry groups such as the American Meat Institute and the National Frozen Pizza Institute.