In a statement penned by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas, the two have proposed new funding for food safety initiatives as part of President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget.
“We must invest to prevent problems from happening by solidifying the agency’s tools under [the Food Safety Modernization Act]. We must also embrace new innovations to improve our ability to secure the food supply chain and engage in more effective tracking and tracing of food from farm to fork. This includes continuing to improve our capabilities for both detecting and responding to food contamination when preventive measures alone are insufficient. The funds we’re requesting for food safety represent the FDA’s commitment to the promises we’ve made to help keep people and animals safe from contaminated food, and our vision of a future in which both human and animal health is protected and strengthened by new and emerging technologies that will create a more digital, traceable, diverse, and safer food system.
FDA’s statement notes that while the use of whole-genome sequencing has been beneficial in many ways when it comes to detecting sources of foodborne contamination and outbreaks, its success “has also greatly increased the FDA’s workload to identify and mitigate potential food safety concerns.” Over the past couple of years, the number of potential human food safety outbreak incidents evaluated by the agency has doubled. As a result, FDA’s budget request will allow them to add new staff and resources to enhance signal detection, response to outbreaks and post-response evaluations.
Additional FDA budget requests related to food safety include:
Part of FDA’s request is funding for what they call “human and animal preventive controls and produce safety inspections through the State Cooperative Agreement Program.” The FDA’s funding supports the states in conducting more than half of the domestic food and more than 80 percent of animal feed facility inspections required by FSMA.
FDA also would like funding for increased use of blockchain technology, which would provide enhanced ability to trace foods to the source during an outbreak, and would also allow the agency to conduct better and more real-time root cause analysis to prevent similar reoccurrences.
Another request FDA has made is for effective toolkits that separate address the needs of domestic food safety and imported food safety.
FDA’s budget requests require Congressional approval before being granted upon the agency.