President Obama's budget proposal for 2010 includes $1 billion for the FDA to "increase and improve inspections, domestic surveillance, laboratory capacity and domestic response to prevent and control foodborne illness."
I have a dim understanding of the federal budget process, but I assume that it will be a bit before we have the opportunity to learn the details about this proposed spending. (And months and months until we see actual Congressional action.)
But I think it is interesting to compare this to the FDA's budget request for food safety for the current fiscal year, which is here.
The 2009 FDA request was $661.8 million, an increase of $42 million over the prior year. This increase would have provided almost $23 million for field activities on the food side, most of which would have gone to hire additional field inspectors.
I could be wrong, but I don't think the President is proposing taking the food safety budget from $600+ million to $1.6 billion, but from $600 million to $1 billion total.
Still, we'd be looking at over a 50% increase in the food safety budget. Moreover, if spent along the lines that the FDA has already laid out in their 2009 request, it would go a long way towards improving food safety.
I still stick to my position. The biggest problem in our food safety system is lack of funding. Compared with adequate funds, all the other regulatory and organizational "reforms" being so earnestly advocated are a side show.