The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US authority that is charged with enforcing food safety and which has been subject to some criticism recently for failing to protect the US food supply from a number of high-profile outbreaks of food-borne illness, will receive nearly $335m more in its 2009 budget than it received in 2008 after the Senate recently gave final approval to a controversial spending bill to fund federal government for the remainder of the year.  

Meanwhile, President Obama’s outline for his 2010 budget includes provision for even greater investment – $1bn is earmarked for food safety efforts ‘to increase and improve inspections, domestic surveillance, laboratory capacity and domestic response to prevent and control food-borne illness’. A spokesman for the Alliance for a Stronger FDA said the budget increases show that the President is acknowledging the FDA’s underfunding in recent years. Details of how the money will be divided up at the FDA are not yet available but the larger sums will come with greater reporting requirements to ensure that they are not squandered.  

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), by contrast, will have its funding reduced to $26bn in 2010 – $100m less than its 2008 budget. The budget summary document supplies few details on how the money should be spent but it does specify that food safety must remain a priority and that $1bn annually should be provided to the child nutrition programme, which aims to eradicate childhood hunger by 2015.