Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf announced plans to reform how the agency regulates food. According to the FDA “vision” released earlier today, a new Deputy Commissioner for Foods will be created to lead the human foods program, taking authority over components currently scattered among the agency’s Office of Food Policy & Response, Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN), and Office of Regulatory Affairs.
“These changes are long overdue and should help to better protect consumers,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at Consumer Federation of America. “The absence of a clear, overarching leader for the FDA foods program has undermined the agency’s organizational culture, its communications, its ability to attract resources, its partnerships with state and local regulators, and its responsiveness in a crisis. By giving one leader the power to set priorities within the foods program, and to direct resources accordingly, this reorganization will help the agency to break down the silos and hopefully, convince Congress to provide the funding needed to ensure a safe and healthy food supply for all Americans.
“The proposed reorganization responds to many of the concerns raised by CFA in testimony delivered before the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s expert panel last year. In particular, the new Office of Integrated Food Safety System Partnerships, should foster better coordination with state agencies, who often conduct food safety inspections on behalf of the FDA. The creation of a new center focused solely on nutrition is also very important, given the huge economic toll that diet-related disease is taking on U.S. consumers. The reorganization plan is not perfect. For example, the Center for Veterinary Medicine is still separate from the foods program, even though its regulation of areas like animal antibiotics greatly impacts the food system. Overall, however, this is an important first step towards greater accountability, transparency, and efficacy at FDA.”