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Food safety measures severely underfunded

In the U.S., food recalls are all too common. E.coli in ground beef. Campylobacter in chicken. Salmonella in walnuts. Listeria in ice cream. The list goes on and on...

Over the past five years federal health officials have sought ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, a complete overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety efforts, which passed with bipartisan support. The new policies emphasized food contamination prevention rather than merely responding to outbreaks.

But due to budgetary constraints, implementing these new policies has been a challenge. The Congressional Budget Office said the FDA would need $580 million between 2011 and 2015. The New York Times reports that Congress so far has budgeted less than half that amount.

"I don't think it's too much to say that the success" of the overhaul "is on the line," Michael R. Taylor, the deputy FDA commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, told the paper. "We have good plans for moving forward. The problem is we don't have the money."

The CDC estimates that each year some 48 million Americans -- 1 in 6 people -- become ill from eating contaminated food. Approximately 128,000 people will be sick enough to require hospitalization, while 3,000 will die from foodborne disease this year.

The FDA says a number of changes outlined in the law are already in progress, but increased funding is needed to carry out mandates for more frequent inspections of high-risk food producers and foreign facilities.

Speaking with CBS News on food safety recently, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio said the government needs more resources to make sure regulations are enforced and the food supply protected.

"The problem with the FDA is that it is so underfunded and there aren't enough people there to actually monitor at the kind of level that we really need to to understand what's in our food," Ryan said.

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