The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have enough resources to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said Wednesday in an appearance before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
In answering a rapid succession of yes or no questions from U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Taylor said that the agency has enough resources to issue the final rules, but not to implement FSMA.
“We will continue efforts to make the best use of the resources we have, but simply put, we cannot achieve FDA’s vision of a modern food safety system and a safer food supply without a significant increase in resources,” Taylor said in his initial statement.
During his time, Dingell asked Taylor to submit details about what the agency would require. When FSMA was approved in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need an increase of more than $580 million to fund the expanded food safety activities.
Importer oversight, developing partnerships with state and local agencies, retraining inspectors and providing technical assistance to small growers and processors were examples Taylor put forward for where additional resources are needed.
Taylor also received many questions from committee members about the produce safety rule. Several members noted their disappointment with it while also praising FDA’s decision to reissue revised language in the produce and preventive controls for human food rules.
Imports were another a hot topic for members such as U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) who was keen to assure his constituents that foreign producers would be held to the same standards as domestic ones.
And, in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) about why it took two years from the time FSMA was signed into law in January 2011 to begin releasing regulations, Taylor stated that it was a function of the complexity of the issues.
Implementation of FSMA is set to begin after all the final rules are published in June 2015.© Food Safety News