Margaret Hamburg, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner recently warned that if FDA food safety funding did not increase, food safety risks to the general public would. On February 23, 2012 Congress examined FDA’s budget during a House appropriations hearing. Hamburg urged that FDA’s insufficient budget to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is “an enormous concern” and highlighted that if FDA does not get the money it needs the country will see more “foodborne outbreaks” and problems with food imports. The Commissioner hopes to raise $220 million for FDA through facility registration fees to support FSMA, but similar proposals have failed in the past. She hinted that the fee would reflect a number of factors, including size of company and levels of production.
Representatives were concerned that Hamburg’s proposal would fall on consumers as a food tax. Hamburg responded by critiquing the amount of money individuals are ultimately providing to enhance food safety: “We are not, as a nation, putting the resources into food safety as we should be. If you look at the budget . . . if you look at how much every American is paying for the FDA, around food safety, it’s about three and a half dollars per year. If you look at the benefits we provide, I think it’s worth more than that.”