Industry balks at ‘food safety tax’ to hit consumers

To help pay for the changes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would seek to collect $59 million in food facility registration and inspection fees from food producers and distributors in the next fiscal year. An additional food import fee would cost the industry $166 million.

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In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA, more than 50 trade groups said the costs amount to a “food safety tax.”

“As food and beverage companies and consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence, the creation of a new food tax would burden food makers with higher costs and consumers with higher food prices,” the groups wrote to Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

“We urge Congress to provide FDA with sufficient funds to meet its food safety responsibilities without saddling food makers and consumers with new regulatory taxes,” they continued.

Led by the American Frozen Food Institute, the groups, which range in scope from the Michigan Bean Shippers to the National Grocers Association, note that the FDA is one of a scant few agencies to receive discretionary funding increases in recent years.

Legislation enacted in the current fiscal year brought roughly $12.8 million for the food safety overhaul.

“We stand ready to work with Congress and the administration to help FDA prioritize and fund its food safety and inspection activities,” the groups wrote. “However, imposing new fees on food facilities would represent a food safety tax on consumers.”

This story was updated with additional information at 8:54 a.m.