For Immediate Release: September 17, 2008
Testifying before Congress, Trust for America's Health Urges FDA Spending Cap until Realistic Budget Request is Made
Group Warned of Risk to the Public in Recent Report
Washington, D.C. - Jeffrey Levi, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH), testified before the before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies today. TFAH has long advocated increases in the FDA's budget, staff, accountability and transparency. Levi urged the FDA to provide a specific budget request to Congress for its "Food Protection Plan," the modernization strategy it announced in November 2007. The FDA has not yet told Congress how it would spend funds to implement their improvement plan.
Levi testified before the committee, "Anyone who picked up a newspaper in the summer of 2008 knows America's federal food safety system is broken. Too many people got sick and too many millions of dollars were lost from American businesses before the real problem was correctly identified. More than ever, the American people deserve an FDA with the plan and resources it needs to protect them."
"At a hearing in June, the FDA Associate Commissioner for Foods was unable to report exactly how much money the FDA actually needs to be more effective. His omission means he was either politically constrained or does not have a plan. I fail to see how FDA can go from being an ‘agency in crisis,' to a modern, capable preventive body without clearly stating its needs. If the agency continues its silence, in the upcoming appropriation, Congress should deny the FDA the ability to spend increased funds until it receives a realistic budget request for the FDA's long-term modernization road map," Levi continued.
TFAH's recent report on the food safety system can be found at: http://healthyamericans.org/reports/foodsafety08/. The salmonella outbreak over the summer underscored the importance of modernizing the agency. Approximately 76 million Americans - one in four - are sickened by foodborne disease each year. Of these, an estimated 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die, costing the U.S. $44 billion annually.