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FY 2014 Appropriations Bill Includes Directives for USDA, FDA

Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released their consolidated appropriations bill for FY 2014 on Monday night, and the House of Representatives passed it with bipartisan support on Wednesday. It is also expected to pass the U.S. Senate when it comes to a vote by the end of this week.

The $1.1-trillion omnibus bill provides $1.01 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and allows for another $1 million to come from laboratory accreditation fees.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to receive $2.55 billion in discretionary funding in the bill, with an additional $1.79 billion to come from user fees. The bill allocates $900 million for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and $173 million to the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

“Congress’s decision to give FDA an additional $53 million in FY 2014 for food safety funding is a victory for public health,” said Sandra Eskin, director of food safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Congress also issued a directive to FDA to “implement a comprehensive training program” about FSMA regulations, calling it “one of the most critical issues facing FSMA implementation.”

The bill praised the agency on its plan to issue revised language for the proposed rules on produce safety and preventive controls for human food, but it also noted concern that FDA’s analysis of implementation costs for preventive controls for human food underestimates the expense.

“The agency did not include regulations or a cost benefit analysis for environmental, ingredient, and finished product testing,” the document states.

The bill also included language preventing the re-establishment of horse slaughter plant inspection and noted disapproval of “USDA’s continued implementation, enforcement, and the associated spending related to the mandatory country of origin labeling regulation for certain meat products during the pending World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada and Mexico.”

However, it did urge FSIS to implement the catfish inspection program “using the broad definition contained in its proposed rule.”

An amendment left off the bill was one added by U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) urging FSIS to move forward with its proposed HACCP-based Inspection Model Program (HIMP) for poultry plants.

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