Washington, D.C.—The Food Safety Modernization Act, since WholeFoods last updated its status in January, has been signed into law by President Barack Obama. But, the new year has brought some challenges to the implementation of the new law’s measures. The Act, which broadens the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) power to regulate food safety, has an uncertain future in terms of funding.

Many Republican officials have expressed concern over the costliness of the bill, and the priority level of enforcing the law at this time. Whether funding will and should be appropriated for its various regulatory measures is under debate. “No one wants anybody to get sick, and we should always strive to make sure food is safe. But the case for a $1.4 billion expenditure isn’t there,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the new chairman of the subcommittee with funding oversight of FDA, told The Washington Post.

While claiming that FDA is busy developing its plans to implement the new law, commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., acknowledged the difficulty in a recent statement, saying, “Already we know that the legislation did not include sufficient fee resources to cover the costs of the new requirements. In that, we will look to Congress to work with us to ensure that FDA has what’s needed to achieve our shared food safety and food defense goals.”A $500 annual fee on food processing facilities was initially part of the budgeting solution, and while this measure did not make it into the final legislation, some politicians and food safety advocates may begin suggesting a similar approach again soon.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2011 (online 1/14/11)