More than two dozen organizations representing a variety of interests are encouraging improvements to food safety and nutrition protocols within in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The groups represent consumers, industry leaders, and state and local regulators. A letter was sent to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf highlighting concerns about existing FDA protocols. The letter cites a recent report that points out significant issues with the structure, governance, and performance of FDA food programs.
A particular concern for the signatories is “the lack of a single, fulltime, fully empowered, and expert leader.” The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint are key areas where groups feel more defined leadership is in order. Each of the initiatives require coordination between the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).
“We call on you to unify the FDA food program under a deputy commissioner for foods, with accountability to the commissioner and direct line authority over CFSAN, CVM, and the food-related components and operations of ORA. This should be done urgently, and the person appointed should have relevant and appropriate food credentials,” the letter states. “In addition to bringing focused leadership and accountability to the FDA’s food program internally, a unified structure and a full-time senior leader will strengthen the program’s standing externally and its ability to be in effective dialogue with its many stakeholders.”
Signatories of the letter include Western Growers, International Fresh Produce Association, Environmental Working Group, and National Association of Chemical Distributors. The coalition is also encouraging more transparency and engagement with stakeholders on issues of food safety and nutrition. The groups assert their interest in meeting with FDA leadership to coordinate efforts to further strengthen food safety programs moving forward.