The Food Safety Modernization Act, also known as the FSMA, became law in January of 2011. The goal of the FSMA was to give the FDA more power to improve domestic food safety. Areas like facility regulation, mandatory recalls, and inspections were all impacted by the FSMA. Although the Food Safety Modernization Act has done a lot to help food safety up to this point, several trends indicate that the U.S. will soon be putting more money into the FSMA to help increase its effectiveness across the industry.
Calls For More Funding In Washington
In April of 2014, news stories reported that FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg and other advocates for food safety were lobbying Congress to put additional money towards the FSMA in FY 2015. According to Hamburg, funding at FY 2014 levels for the act would allow the FDA to create regulations necessary under the FSMA, but without any additional funding it would be impossible for the agency to actually enact these rules. The FDA has requested an 8% or $358 million increase over enacted FY2014 levels, a huge majority of which would come from user fees.
Where Will The Money Go?
In order to have a chance at successfully getting this budget increase, the FDA has to prove that they will put the funds to good use. According to Hamburg, the extra money will allow the FDA to create guidance and offer technical support for the industry as a whole, as well as ramp up training programs for inspectors that represent the tip of the spear when it comes to the new Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.
What Has The Reaction Been So Far?
Unfortunately, there has been no rigid decision about whether or not the new agricultural appropriations will go into effect and when they will happen. In early August, Food Safety News reported that the bills to provide extra funding to the FDA and the Department of Agriculture were still being debated on the legislative floor. Congress went on a five-week break in August and reconvened on Capitol Hill on September 8.
Not everyone is supportive of the way that the FDA is asking for more funding. Recently, some representatives have asked for user fees to be excluded in the funding of the FSMA because of the impact they will have on the organizations paying these fees. History portrays an unpopular picture of these fees: Congress has rejected the last five requests for user fees to help implement the FSMA.
What Will The Future Bring?
It is impossible to say whether or not the FSMA will get more funding, but one thing is clear: those in the food industry should be paying close attention to what happens in Washington if they want to maintain their ability to meet government regulations for food safety. Higher levels of funding for the Food Safety Modernization Act would mean much more widespread implementation of the tenets of the law, which would have a sweeping impact on the way that food companies currently do business.