Dear Sequester, Thank You For the Food-Borne Illness
Due to the recent government sequester that went into effect on March 1st, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will administer fewer number of food safety inspections throughout the country. While American consumers may not feel the impact immediately, the loss of $209 million from its budget will force the FDA to conduct about 2,100 less inspections. This reduction in food inspections account for an 18% decline compared to last year. The funding loss will also delay the agency’s implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.
Not only are food-borne illnesses (FBI) of concern but, the approval of new drugs are as well. All of the programs within the FDA are at risk for being compromised because of the huge cuts that are taking place. The Sequester is becoming a really big hit and I think that more and more people will start to experience that, and in turn realize its significance. The FDA does plan to prioritize programs that have the greatest effect on the public’s health, including disease outbreaks.
These next statistics are so ridiculous to me…. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans, which equals 48 million people, develop a FBI each year. Out of these people, 3,000 people die and 128,000 are hospitalized. The FDA is already facing serious criticism, not to mention legal actions, for being slow to implement the food safety law. This law is geared towards refocusing the FDA’s efforts on prevention, instead of responding to crises. Since the law was signed into effect in 2011, it sat for 2 years with the White House Office of Management and Budget where it was rewritten in ways that weakened FDA’s oversight. The FDA claims that they’re frustrated with this situation, as is the rest of the country. The more time that goes by without this law going into effect, the more people that are at-risk of getting seriously sick.
But, I don’t believe that the FDA is as innocent as they might be leading on. Even before the Sequester, the FDA was able to inspect less than 2% of all food imports.
The FDA also addressed other key issues like:
– Plan B being sold over-the-counter to anyone, regardless of age.
– Drug shortages
– Outbreaks of fungal meningitis within pharmacies