Victims of foodborne illness and their families are urging Congress to appropriate additional funding for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Several Congress members and plenty of food safety advocates have written to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees this year asking that they increase FSMA funding in the next federal budget. The authors of the latest letter are 75 people in 34 states who fell ill from eating contaminated food and their relatives who refer to themselves as “the names behind the statistics.” Geoff Soza of Encinitas, CA signed the letter and supports FDA’s efforts to finalize strong food safety regulations because he nearly died from an infection of Hepatitis A in 2013 after eating contaminated frozen berries. An email his wife of 30 years wrote to their daughter at the time described him as “Gagging, retching, burning to the touch, aching and lacking even the energy to sit up. He lay lifeless on the hospital bed, his face and eyes bright yellow. He has refused to eat for 48 hours.” There was the possibility he would need his gall bladder removed or a liver transplant. Even after he left the hospital, Soza says, it was four months before he felt healthy again. It’s important for him to do anything he can “to prevent things like this from happening again to anybody” and that victim stories can have a stronger impact on effecting change, he told Food Safety News. “We should have better food safety rules,” Soza said. “The country thinks pretty highly of itself, but if we can’t take care of our population, we’re lacking, no matter what else we do.” The House and Senate agriculture appropriations bills for FY2015 included an increase of as much as $25 million for FDA food safety activities. 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. FDA has since revised that estimate to between $400 and $450 million. Soza and the other victims who signed the letter, sent to to Reps. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) and to Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) Monday, requested that an additional $300 million be allocated to FDA over the next two years. “As Congress continues to consider funding for Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety budget, we hope you will keep in mind the estimated 48 million Americans who are sickened annually by foodborne illness,” they wrote.