The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and a coalition of more than 30 food groups urged senior administration leaders to develop a fiscal year 2013 budget request that fully funds U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety programs without saddling consumers and food makers with burdensome new taxes or fees.
“Food safety is the highest priority for America’s food makers and we believe that sufficient federal resources must be provided to fund the FDA’s critical food safety activities,” said AFFI President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “We stand ready to work with the administration and Congress to develop a funding plan that ensures America’s food supply remains the safest in the world without increasing costs for consumers and food makers.”
In a Jan. 30 letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients, AFFI and its allies stressed that Congress has previously rejected efforts to impose new regulatory fees and food taxes, including a request included in the administration’s FY 2012 budget proposal.
The AFFI-led coalition cautioned that imposing any new food taxes will yield crippling economic effects. “As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic turbulence and food makers struggle with record high commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers.”
In light of the economic damage new food taxes would cause, the groups said, “imposing new fees on food makers is the wrong option for funding food safety programs.”
The groups lauded recent FDA budget increases, noting that the agency’s budget has grown from $1.6 billion in FY 2007 to $2.5 billion in FY 2012. “We particularly appreciate the funding increase received by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, whose important work has greatly benefited from a $350 million budget increase over the past four years,” the coalition emphasized.
Joining the American Frozen Food Institute on the letter were the: American Bakers Association, American Council of Independent Laboratories, American Fruit and Vegetables Processors and Growers Coalition, American Meat Institute, Association of Food Industries, California League of Food Processors, Cheese Importers Association of America, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Independent Bakers Association, International Bottled Water Association, Juice Products Association, Midwest Food Processors Association, National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, National Meat Association, National Pasta Association, National Turkey Federation, North American Millers’ Association, Northwest Food Processors Association, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Refrigerated Foods Association, Shelf-Stable Food, Processors Association, Snack Food Association, United Egg Producers and the United Fresh Produce Association.