A lack of federal dollars has delayed (until now), amongst other projects, the implementation of a major component of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): the establishment of five Food Safety Integrated Centers of Excellence. Section 210 of the Act stipulates that the Center of Disease Control (CDC) will be in charge of creating these five centers, that will “serve as resources for Federal, State, and local public health professionals to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks.”
The estimated cost of the centers would total approximately $2.75 million dollars, and federal funding has not come through to foot the bill. An article from Food Safety News this past March stated that the centers were to “be modeled on the close working relationship among the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which has been credited for helping trace Salmonella outbreaks in 2009 to peppers and peanut butter.”
Indeed, the CDC stuck VERY closely with this model, as it was recently announced that the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health were charged with creating a Food Safety Center of Excellence. The CDC awarded $199, 970 to fund the operation. The Center in Minnesota, like other forthcoming centers are meant to “create partnerships with health departments and schools of public health to leverage resources to improve foodborne illness outbreak surveillance and investigations”
Though the Jan. 4, 2012 due date to designate all of the centers has long since passed, the CDC states that it will continue to plan for the centers as soon as funding does become available. With the recent news that The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture “approved funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the fiscal year 2013 with no new funding for food safety” the future of other centers remains unclear. For more information on the FSMA and food safety concerns, check in with your local inspector or check out information from the CDC and FDA.