The Dean of the House of Representatives is calling on Congress to “adequately fund” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so it can implement the sweeping food safety law President Obama signed in January.
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) sent a letter to the leadership on both the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Appropriations requesting they “immediately” provide the funding needed to implement the “urgently needed” provisions the newly enacted FDA Food Safety Modernization Act law, a feat that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will require approximately $1.4 billion in additional funds over the next five years.
Dingell says he has “grave concerns” that a recently unveiled GOP budget plan would “withhold funding” to implement the FDA’s new mandate, which he strongly backed.
“While I understand the need for fiscal responsibility in this time of unprecedented budget deficits, it is imperative that we not compromise public safety in the name of being ‘penny-wise but pound foolish,’ ” writes Dingell in the letter. “Recent events, such as eggs contaminated with Salmonella and ground beef contaminated with E. coli, have shown the pressing need to ensure our nation’s food supply remains safe to eat.”
Dingell also pointed to the recently updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year 48 million Americans suffer a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
“Like you, I believe that we must weigh the economic impact of new regulations,” he continued. “Such examination must also take into account the impact new regulations have on the public health and well-being of the American people. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was supported by a wide variety of consumer and industry stakeholders, and passed the House and Senate by strong, bipartisan margins.”
“It is demonstrably clear that preventing the outbreaks of food-borne illness is far less costly to our government, business, and society than allowing them to occur,” added Dingell.