FDA Commissioner: budget cuts mean less safe food

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013

"We are guardedly optimistic that we will continue, even in this fiscal budget climate, to get some enhanced resources to continue to expand and to move toward the goals of the program," Hamburg said of food safety.

The Obama administration had hoped for more dollars to carry out the law, which would boost the inspections and training for inspectors, require farms and food companies to create detailed food safety plans and create a new system for inspecting imported foods. But Congress did not pass a new budget last year and funding has remained stagnant.

The across-the-board cuts will also affect meat inspection, which is administered by the Agriculture Department. USDA has said inspectors could be furloughed for up to 15 days, meaning meatpacking plants would have to intermittently shut down. Government inspectors must be present for a meatpacking plant to operate.

The White House has said this could mean less meat in grocery stores and higher prices.