By STEVE BROWN
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposes $252 million in increased user fees to bolster food safety, particularly in imports.
In its FY2014 budget request, the FDA points out that 15 to 20 percent of all foods consumed in the U.S. originate from foreign sources with varying levels of food and feed safety oversight. For some higher-risk commodities, like seafood and produce, the percentage is higher.
The user fees, in addition to a $43 million budget request, "will place greater responsibility on those in the food supply chain -- food and feed manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, transporters and importers -- to ensure that imported food and feed are as safe those produced domestically," the agency said.
Proposed programs include a national call center to respond to inquiries about food import status; more staff, longer hours and capital investments at ports and borders; IT tools and systems to expedite identification of threats; and additional support for the Foreign Supplier Verification Program.
Overall, the FDA is requesting a budget of $4.7 billion to protect and promote the public health as part of President Barack Obama's FY2014 budget.