FDA: Safety push will fall short without more funding

The Obama administration’s top food safety official will tell Congress Wednesday that a landmark safety overhaul now under way will fall short of its goals without a significant boost in funding.

Michael Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, is slated to testify about the agency’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act during a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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The agency in recent days proposed the last of seven regulations required by the statute, which reflects the largest food safety update in 70 years. But carrying out the new system as envisioned would be impossible under current budget constraints, according to Taylor.

“Simply put, we cannot achieve our objective of a safer food supply without a significant increase in resources,” he said in testimony prepared for the hearing.

When the legislation was approved in 2010, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the FDA would need an additional $580 million to carry out its new mission. That number was later revised down to $400 million to $450 million in an administration report to Congress.

The fiscal 2014 omnibus spending bill passed last month contained a modest increase for the agency, but fell well shy of the total needed for the food safety push.

“We will continue our efforts to make the best use of the resources we have, but I can say with absolute certainty that we cannot do all that is asked of us without additional resources,” Taylor will tell the panel.