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Food industry wants Congress to fund FSMA enforcement

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 22:00
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Food safety appropriations for last year are like the high water marks for the next fiscal year budget and congressional appropriators are now being urged not to back off just as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) just as it is being implemented.

A couple dozen major food companies and trade associations Wednesday dropped a letter off at the offices of the four top budget writers on Capitol Hill.

The letter expressed support for “appropriate funding” for the food safety budget at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for FY 2017.

“For all our companies and associations, food safety is our number one priority and represents a critical standard we work hard to meet every day,” the letter says. “Consumer confidence in our companies and associations and in our brands is the foundation of everything we do and the reason we invest our reputations and resources in producing safe products.”

Food industry organizations signing the letter included: the American Bakers Association (ABA); American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI); Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA); The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA); National Fisheries Institute (NFI); The Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association (PTNPA); Produce Marketing Association (PMA); and United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA).

The letter reminds the budget writers of the “substantial investments” Congress has already made “to ensure that FDA is on track” to implement the FSMA. “As you know, FSMA encompasses sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws and requires a new approach from FDA,” it says.

The letter went to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman, and Rep. Nita M. Lowey, ranking member, both of the House Committee on Appropriations; and Sen. Thad Cochran, chairman, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, vice chairman, both of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

It was also signed by company representatives from: Campbell Soup Company, Cargill Inc., Coca-Cola Company, Conagra Brands Inc., Costco Wholesale, Hershey, Kellogg Company, Land O’ Lakes Inc., Mars Inc., Nestle U.S.A., PepsiCo Inc. Unilever Inc., and Walmart Stores Inc.

Key point in the letter is the food industry supporting an increase in FDA’s food safety funding in the FY 2017 budget “that reflects the funding levels provided for FSMA implementation by the Committees in 2016.”

According to experts on federal food safety budgets, those funding levels amount to increases for FY 2017 of just over $40 million (Senate) and $33 million (House) for implementing the FSMA.

The food industry letter calls FSMA “the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy” with a “new focus on prevention” and expanded authority for FDA.

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