On February 2, 2015, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2016. Among the items for food safety, the budget would nearly double the current level of funding devoted to combating antimicrobial resistance and would allocate additional money for FDA’s ongoing implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”). Following a similar proposal by congressional Democrats, the budget also seeks to consolidate all federal food safety functions within a single agency under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The budget proposes more than $1.2 billion across various agencies for purposes of improving antibiotic stewardship, strengthening risk assessments and reporting, and promoting research in the health and agricultural sectors. These proposals, subject to congressional review and approval, would build on the administration’s efforts to address a growing threat to public health. In September 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order and issued a national strategy for coordinating efforts to stem the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), antibiotic resistance is responsible for two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States every year.
Additionally, the budget for FDA includes $109.5 million for FSMA implementation efforts. If approved in whole, 75 percent of these funds would go toward three primary initiatives: modernizing food inspection processes and training new employees; establishing a National Integrated Food Safety System for coordination among local, state, and federal regulators; and developing import safety systems as part of the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. Remaining funds would support technical staffing and efforts to improve the agency’s risk analytics.