Obama to Sign Food Safety Act into Law; Funding for Implementation Unclear with GOP in Control of House
(WASHINGTON) -- Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the head of the FDA held a conference call with reporters Monday on The Food Safety and Modernization Act, which the President will sign into law Tuesday. Secretary Sebelius said that the act would finally bring U.S. food safety laws up to date and help with efforts to keep the food supply safe as the number of foodborne diseases and outbreaks have increased in recent years. Sebelius said that in the 1990s there were about 100 foodborne outbreaks every year but that now there are an estimated 350 outbreaks every year in the United States.
Because of these increased outbreaks Sebelius said that it is estimated that one out of six Americans is struck with food-related illnesses every year and that as many as 3,000 people die each year from foodborne illness.
The key part of the act that was discussed on the call involved providing the FDA with mandatory recall authority and the ability of the FDA to access food producers' records. Asked on the call about the costs of implementing the act, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the estimated costs over five years to implement the act was $1.4 billion. It is unclear if the new incoming Republican Congress will fully fund the act’s implementation.
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