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FDA chief: Food safety overhaul a good first step, but more must be done

By Sarah Latson | Med City News

Margaret Hamburg official portrait small
Image via Wikipedia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told a Senate committee Thursday that legislation to expand the agency’s oversight is “a major step in the right direction,” but needs to be stronger, Reuters reported.

The bill, which would give the FDA the power to recall food, does not include enough funding, said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the FDA commissioner. Nor does it include such “crucial measures” as improving the FDA’s access to food records during routine inspections, Reuters said.

Hamburg told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the FDA wants the Senate bill to look more like legislation that passed the House of Representatives in July, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The House bill is estimated to cost $3.7 billion over five years, and some of the money would come from a $500 annual fee on each food facility, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“It is the case that our mandate and responsibilities have far outstripped our resources,” Hamburg said, according to the Journal. “We are concerned that the [Senate] bill does not provide a guaranteed consistent funding source to help FDA fulfill its new responsibilities.”

Hamburg said she plans to hire 350 new employees for the FDA’s food program and conduct 2,000 more inspections next year, the Journal said.

 

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