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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 4, 1999

Food Safety in FY 2000 Budget Proposal

President Clinton will recommend increasing funds for food safety by $105 million -- or 12 percent -- in his fiscal 2000 budget proposal. If enacted, the budget would result in a third year of significant growth in government efforts to prevent potentially deadly foodborne illness by putting into place a modern, science-based food safety system involving improved inspection, surveillance, research, and education activities. The new funds are to be shared by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), which would receive $65 million, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which would receive $40 million.

Improving Domestic and International Food Safety Inspections

The President's proposal would significantly expand inspections of domestic food products. New funds for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which protects the safety of all food products except meat and poultry, would enable the agency to use more than 60 new inspectors to inspect, at least once each year, every domestic manufacturer of high-risk food products (generally, products that are not cooked by consumers). Currently, these manufacturers are inspected every three to four years. Additional funds for USDA would permit the broad expansion of its science-based, prevention-oriented meat and poultry inspection system, called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), which already has significantly reduced contamination in these food products. HACCP is now in effect at the nation's 300 largest meat and poultry facilities. USDA would use the proposed new funds to introduce HACCP at 2,700 smaller plants (those employing 10 to 499 employees), which would mean that 90 percent of all meat and poultry will be covered.

The President's budget would also increase scrutiny of imported food products. Under the proposal, the FDA would more than double the number of inspections conducted of foreign food processors. In addition, FDA technical experts will work with food safety officials abroad to ensure that their food-growing, processing, and transportation systems meet high standards for safe production. The President will also continue to push Congress to pass legislation enabling the FDA to cut off all imports from foreign countries whose food safety systems are not equivalent to those in this country.

Public Health Research and Surveillance

The President's budget includes a significant component for surveillance and research activities. To help officials track pathogens back to their source and prevent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will use new funds to almost double the number of laboratories that do "DNA fingerprinting" of foodborne pathogens. FDA and USDA also will use new funds to expand research to develop more effective ways of testing for and identifying dangerous contaminants such as Salmonella and Cyclospora.

A Record of Accomplishment

The President's proposal builds on a strong record of actions to ensure that Americans eat the safest possible food. Last year, the President proposed a $101 million increase in food-safety funding, more than $80 million of which was ultimately approved by Congress in the final budget. The Administration has put in place improved safety standards for meat, poultry, and seafood product, and has begun the process of developing enhanced standards for fruit and vegetable juices.