Food safety concerns, including the ongoing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) Salmonella recall, were discussed in a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on the president’s 2011 budget request for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday.

“We’ve experienced the real world implications of gaps in food safety

and a food safety system that tends to address problems once they occur

rather than preventing them in the first place,” said Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, when asked specifically about the expanding HVP recall.

FDA’s food safety programs receive a 30 percent increase in funding for 2011 under the budget proposal. About 75 percent of the increase in funds is contingent on the passage of an FDA food safety reform bill, which includes the authority to collect food facility registration fees.

Food safety is one of three key areas receiving significant funding boosts in the current budgetary environment in which other agencies and programs are seeing spending freezes or cuts. The other two areas FDA is focusing on: protecting patients and advancing regulatory science.

According to Hamburg, all three priorities are “crucial” for modernizing the agency.

Hamburg also reiterated the agency’s strong support of the pending FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, S. 510, which is waiting for full Senate consideration after being unanimously voted out of committee in mid-November.  Hamburg said the bill would help “truly transform” the food safety system.

Tuesday’s hearing, held by the Senate appropriations committee with

jurisdiction over the FDA budget–formally known as the Agriculture,

Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Subcomittee–is an important step in the budget process.


the House appropriations subcommittee with oversight over the FDA will

hold a similar hearing to discuss key budgetary priorities at 10 a.m.

EST.  Commissioner Hamburg will be testifying in that hearing as well.

Correction: This story incorrectly reported that there would be a webcast of the House FDA appropriations hearing, there is no webcast available.