Dooley and Dingell debate

Last week, Rep. John D. Dingell (D., Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, circulated a draft measure to overhaul the FDA as part of the response to a spate of recalls of food and tainted medicine. Under the proposal, food producers would have to pay annual registration fees of $2,000 per facility, generating $600 million for FDA food-safety activities, more than doubling the current budget. Importers would have to pay an additional $400 million in fees. Grocery and food producers told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Thursday that a proposal to impose fees to fund more safety oversight would amount to a $1 billion new tax on the industry that would raise prices for consumers, reports Bloomberg News. "Inevitably there would be an increase in the cost of the products that is passed on to the consumer," said Cal Dooley, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. "You are further compounding the rapid increase in food prices, the likes of which we haven't seen in recent years." Dingell’s response was that improving inspections would help the companies represented by the grocers' group to restore confidence in the food supply and reduce costly lawsuits. With the legislative changes, "you would get safe food from places like China, where they sell all manner of crap," Dingell told Dooley.