Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FDA Seeks Public Comment On Proposed Fees For Federal Food Safety Inspections

Agency asks: Should small-scale food producers get fee waivers?
President Obama signed S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act into law in January, the first bill in decades to provide sweeping changes to federal food safety efforts. It gives the US Food and Drug Administration the authority to impose and collect fees from food producers when the agency has to reinspect food manufacturing or processing facilities following one of the many tainted food recalls that routinely trump America's foodchain, as well as when inspectors must verify compliance. (Above: The President signing the bill, which like the debt deal bill, was a closed-press event)

FDA just published a notice in the Federal Register proposing fees of $224 an hour for work by its staff in domestic food facilities and $335 an hour at foreign facilities, and asks for public comments, which are being accepted until October 31. Click the link to comment.

FDA is especially interested in comments on whether the fees will be a burden to small businesses, how to define small businesses, and whether a reduction or waiver of the fees would be appropriate for small-scale food producers, the notice said.

The fees will be imposed if a previous inspection found "significant problems and regulatory action" is required to address these. The FDA said the rate was set to cover inspectors' travel expenses, time at facilities, related administrative tasks and lab analysis. If a company can show that its food was not adulterated or misbranded, fees will NOT be required for re-inspections, the FDA said. This year's comments will also be considered when the fees are established for the next fiscal year, the agency said.

About 3,000 Americans die each year from foodborne disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control, with 48 million people sickened and 128,000 hospitalized.

*Photo by Pete Souza/White House

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