FDA Commissioner: budget cuts mean less safe food

by Mary Clare Jalonick
In this Nov. 14, 2012 file photo, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hamburg says the lack of a new 2013 budget from Congress and the upcoming across-the-board spending cuts will mean fewer food safety inspections and an increased risk to consumers. The cuts could delay a new food safety law that requires the agency to boost inspections and directs farms and food facilities to ensure their food is safe. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says the lack of a new 2013 budget from Congress and the upcoming across-the-board spending cuts will mean fewer food safety inspections and an increased risk to consumers.

The cuts could delay a new food safety law that requires the agency to boost inspections and directs farms and food facilities to ensure their food is safe.

The FDA has said the across-the-board cuts due Friday mean 2,100 fewer food safety inspections this year, though Hamburg said in an interview with The Associated Press that the number is an estimate. She said most of the effects wouldn't be felt for a while, and the agency won't have to furlough workers.

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