Make Our Food Safe

Pew Commends Rep. Latham on New Food Safety Funding

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2013)—The Pew Charitable Trusts commends Representative Tom Latham (R-IA) for his leadership in securing approximately $27 million for food safety in the House appropriations bill funding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. The new money would help the FDA protect millions of Americans from the dangers of foodborne illnesses and strengthen consumer confidence in the food supply.

The food safety funding was approved in the $19.5 billion agricultural appropriations bill approved on a voice vote by the full House Appropriations Committee June 13.

“We’re delighted that Rep. Latham, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, continues to make food safety a clear priority. He understands that food safety programs are crucial to consumers and to the hardworking farm families who grow our crops,” said Erik Olson, senior director of Pew’s food programs. “Outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, such as the salmonella in cantaloupe that sickened 15 Iowans last year, can shake consumer confidence and cost agricultural producers millions. This new funding would help strengthen prevention efforts and protect consumers and producers alike.”

In polls conducted last year, Pew found overwhelming bipartisan support among Iowans, with 73 percent favoring an increase in funding for FDA food safety programs for 2013. Olson noted that several families in Iowa have suffered tragedy as a result of foodborne illness.

“My daughter died at the age of 14 after being sickened by E. coli poisoning, and as a result, I know the horrors of foodborne illness all too well,” said Dana Boner of Monroe, IA. “This funding increase is a step in the right direction, and I appreciate Rep. Latham’s continued commitment to food safety.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, one in six Americans—or 48 million people—suffers from a foodborne illness, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The additional $27.8 million in the House bill would support FDA efforts to:

  • Develop and implement science-based standards to protect produce and processed foods from being contaminated with pathogens.
  • Increase the frequency and accuracy of domestic and foreign inspections.
  • Train FDA, state, and other regulatory partners in new inspection protocols required to ensure improved compliance with food safety requirements.
  • Build the capacity of the FDA’s state partners to bring additional state programs and resources to bear on food safety issues.
  • Implement FDA’s new import authorities to ensure the safety of imported food and feed.

These priorities are shared by Pew and its consumer, public health, and industry partners, who have been pressing for additional food safety funding. Although the Senate version of the bill has included increased food safety funding for the past three years, this increase in the House bill marks the first time in three years the House Appropriations Committee has initiated significant new dollars for FDA food safety.

The House bill is expected to see floor action as early as next week. The Senate version of the appropriations bill is scheduled for committee markup next week.

###

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and stimulate civic life. For more information, visit pewtrusts.org.