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FDA Sets Food Safety Fees, Seeks Comment

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that became law in January gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to impose and collect fees from food producers when the agency has to reinspect food manufacturing or processing facilities and when inspectors must verify compliance following a food recall.


The agency has posted a notice in the Federal Register proposing fees of $224 an hour for work by its staff in domestic food facilities and $335 an hour at foreign facilities. The fees would be imposed if a previous inspection found significant problems and regulatory action was required to address them. The FDA said the rate was set to cover inspectors’ time at a facility, travel expenses, related administrative tasks and lab analysis. 

Under some circumstances, if a company could show that its food was not adulterated or misbranded, fees would not be required for reinspections, the FDA said.

Comments on the fees will be accepted until October 31 this year, and the agency says those comments will also be considered when the fees are established for the following fiscal year. 

The notice says the FDA is particularly interested in comments on whether the fees will be a burden to small businesses, how to define small businesses, and whether a reduction or waiver of the fees would be appropriate for small-scale food producers.

Each year 48 million people, or one in six Americans, are sickened, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illlness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Under FSMA, the FDA has new enforcement authority that is supposed to help it achieve higher rates of compliance with prevention- and risk-based  standards to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. food supply.


Image of inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

© Food Safety News
  • Doc Mudd

    “The notice says the FDA is particularly interested in comments on whether the fees will be a burden to small businesses, how to define small businesses, and whether a reduction or waiver of the fees would be appropriate for small-scale food producer.”
    These fees are for RE-INSPECTION after a food producer has previously been identified (at no cost to them) as compromising the safety of customers or has been required to recall unsafe product.
    Note carefully, there is no fee or cost to the miscreant producer to identify his/her slack production standards and inferior product in the first place, just fees to cover the cost for FDA to clear up the resulting mess.
    Absolutely no reason to exempt “small-scale food producers” from responsibility for their actions. If they screw up and require extra-special attention from FDA they should reimburse us (the taxpayers) for the assistance we’ve given them to clean up their act and fly right.
    I’m pretty weary of hearing cries for exemptions for “small producers”. I’m beginning to think we should charge them double or triple — that seems to be what a lot of them would like to charge me for their substantially equivalent foods at their boutique markets. I guess they can easily enough afford to pay their fair share. Just wish they could do it without whining all the time.

  • Minkpuppy

    My question is Why does FDA need to charge for services that are part of their job anyway? Verifying compliance after a recall is mandatory otherwise the company could just keep on doing what their doing and never be held accountable. Shouldn’t they already be collecting fees for lab analysis at FDA labs? And overtime? Are they going to use all this newfound money to hire more inspectors?
    At $224-$335/hr, FSIS needs to get on this gig to cover some of their budget shortfalls. Oh yeah, right, I forgot. AMI tells Washington DC what to do so that will never happen. They bitch about the measly $70 some bucks an hour they have to pay for OT and voluntary inspection services. They’d never go for 3-5X that.

  • Doc Mudd

    Geez, Mink. There’s no charge all the way up to the time the producer gets caught screwing up and puts a lot of people to the extra trouble of straightening out the mess he/she made. Only then does the reimbursement kick in. Our heroic producer was grinnin’ and cuttin’ costs right and left all the way up to that point; saved a bundle, too!
    Think of it like you tried to fix your kitchen garbage disposal yourself and, well, you know – broken parts strung all over the floor now. So, you call a couple of buddies to bring some vice-grip pliers and a bigger hammer, and they do, and, well, now there’s water spraying off the ceiling. But you hafta spring for a case of beer anyway because they helped you out when they coulda been fishin’.
    Now you gotta call a goddam plumber (who takes his sweet time gettin around to ya) and he expects to get paid too. But eventually your garbage disposal works again…and the water seems to be under control…and you have clean dishes again and dinner’s in the oven…and maybe you learned a lesson…or maybe not.
    I just don’t see why screw-ups shouldn’t expect to pay their own freight and handling.

  • Minkpuppy

    Geez Mudd, I have dual jurisdiction plants that have been operating for 15 years without ever seeing an FDA inspector so I guess I have a hard time figuring out why they want to get paid for a service they’re already supposed to be providing but haven’t been do such a stellar job at.
    Normal FSIS inspections are built into the agency budget. All the followup on recalls and screwups are part of the job and part of the service. Only overtime and voluntary inspection services like exports, exotic species inspection and id services get charged.
    But I forget that FDA pretty much ignores plants until something happens so I guess it’s only natural that they would expect compensation. I mean, geez, they actually have to DO something

  • Doc Mudd

    Well, maybe they could work for beer. I mean, if the outcome is not all that important. A lot of situations work themselves out that way.

  • Madelein Potgieter

    I agree, it’s about time for the FDA to sets re-inspection fees when food manufactures fail their inspections. Its always about what they don’t do however I am sure food manufacturers will be more diligent in managing their food safety program and perhaps it will become a culture.
    Anyway what does this cost compare to a food recall?

  • Don Gordon

    This is not new. FDA has always collected fees for supervision of re-conditioning and analysis after a seizure action, for example. The only difference is it is being extended to re-inspection. The cost, however, at 200-300/hr is excessive. They should charge actual cost. Most FDA investigators and analysts earn between 20-50/hr.

  • Robert Bird

    I think that the fees may be excessive but if the money stays in the FDA and is used to employ more inspectors than I believe that it may be a good thing.
    The FSMA on paper is great but where is the funding coming from to support it. The extra fees imposed on those companies that have issues may help to pay for more inspectors, which may help to reduce the number of issues.
    Many of us hardly ever see the inspectors and when we do they are in and out because the have other stops to make. More inspectors will allow for more thorough inspections and hopefully less issues.