FDA budget request includes little money for food safety programs

The Food and Drug Administration has requested $7.2 billion for fiscal year 2024.

According to President Biden’s budget proposal, the agency wants $128 million of that allocation for food safety programs. The FDA also proposed legislative action by Congress to expand its authority and ability to intervene to prevent contamination or shortages of the food and drug supply.

The agency has been criticized for the lack of a clear chain of command on the food side of its responsibilities, as well as a lack of funding, compared to the drug side of its operations. A portion of the $128.2 million would go toward food safety reviews recently outlined by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.

Califf has proposed changes he says will help with food safety response and prevention, but critics say his deputy commissioner position lacks the authority to make a difference.

The FDA’s budget proposal also includes money to strengthen responses to shortages of critical foods, including infant formula. The infant formula crisis of 2022, sparked by findings of Cronobacter contamination at an Abbott Nutrition production facility that made Similac and other popular brands, and the subsequent recall and temporary closure of the plant, brought to light the lack of agency’s ability to respond to such occurrences

Part of the $128.2 million request would also include:

  • $10 million in investments in enterprise data modernization and information technology (IT);
  • $16 million for regulatory and mission support functions within the Office of the Commissioner; and
  • $9.4 million for improvements to FDA buildings, facilities and infrastructure.

Proposals for the agency’s food safety efforts include legislative efforts to boost the FDA’s authority to pursue food safety and certain other areas of its operations. Those items include:

  • Require industry to test final food products marketed for consumption by infants and children for toxic elements and allow FDA access to those records;
  • Improve tools to help reduce exposure to toxic elements in the food supply, especially foods eaten by infants and young children, including new authority to set binding limits on contamination in food;
  • Expand the agency’s authority to request records or other information before or instead of inspections to include all FDA-regulated product areas, including explicitly food; and
  • Require animal drug sponsors to implement changes designed to protect consumers from drug residues in food animals by making post-approval safety-related labeling changes based on new data, the development of programs for the safe use of certain products, and the requirement for post-approval studies based on new safety information that becomes available after approval.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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