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February 2, 2004

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FDA's Budget Proposal for FY 2005 Requests Increase for Food Safety

The Food and Drug Administration announced today that it is seeking an increase of $65 million for fiscal year (FY) 2005 (10/1/2004-9/30/2005) to boost its food security activities as part of a new interdepartmental program for the defense of the Nation's food supply. The request is part of the President's FY 2005 budget proposal for FDA, which totals $1.8 billion.

“This proposal represents the next step in our comprehensive food security strategy,” FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. said. “The additional resources will allow us to continue our efforts to give Americans the most protection possible from deliberate or accidental food risks.”

The requested increase, which would bring the total FDA counter-terrorism budget to $181 million, is designed to fund FDA's role in government-wide protections of the food supply that have been developed, in cooperation with the White House Homeland Security Council, by the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The biggest part of the increase -- $35 million -- would be used to increase the FDA's analytic surge capacity for biological, chemical and radiological threat agents by enhancing the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN). Once completed, FERN will encompass a nationwide network of Federal and State laboratories capable of testing the safety of thousands of food samples, thereby enhancing the Nation's ability to swiftly respond to a terrorist attack.

An additional $15 million of the $65 million increase is proposed to fund research on prevention technologies, methods development and determination of infectious dose for potential terrorism agents when ingested with food, and identification of agent characteristics within specified foods. Development of these strategies will shield the food supply from potential attacks and enable rapid response if needed.

Another $7 million is earmarked for increased FDA inspections of domestic and imported food to reduce the risk of contaminated products entering the United States market. In FY 2005, FDA is expected to conduct 97,000 import field inspections, a more than 60 percent increase over last year, and seven times the number of such inspections in FY 2001. FDA also intends to conduct nearly 26,000 examinations of domestic food firms, almost eleven times the number of exams in FY 2001.

An additional $3 million of the proposed increase is to be used to upgrade the agency's crisis management by boosting its capacity for rapid and coordinated response to a threat to the safety of the food supply.

The FY 2005 budget request also includes $5 million to finance FDA's role in the government-wide bio-surveillance effort designed to provide the earliest possible detection of the intentional release of deadly pathogens into food, water, or the environment. This increase will help coordinate food surveillance capabilities with other public health and environmental authorities at state and national levels.

The research programs, increased food inspections, and the government-wide biosurveillance effort, are part of HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's comprehensive approach to enhancing food security highlighted in a progress report issued last July.


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