The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced its intention to make significant changes to its food safety and nutrition division. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf describes the FDA structural changes as a “transformative vision” to better protect public health. Part of the changes includes a substantial reform of the Human Foods Program. Functions of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Food Policy and Response, as well as certain functions of the Office of Regulatory Affairs will be consolidated under the program.
Groups such as the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) welcomed the announcement from Commissioner Califf as being an important step in the right direction. “The vision laid out by the Commissioner is likely to streamline decision-making within the Agency,” said Jennifer McEntire, IFPAs chief food safety and regulatory officer. “It’s critical that the new structure eliminates silos and fosters a prevention-oriented culture.”
A more comprehensive and unified Human Foods Program will be administered by a single leader that will report directly to Commissioner Califf. The Deputy Commissioner will oversee the program and will have “decision-making authority over policy, strategy, and regulatory program activities.” Some criticisms of the FDA structural changes are primarily based on the sentiment that the announcement does not go far enough. However, Western Growers SVP of Science, De Ann Davis said they look forward to working with the agency in implementing the important changes.
“We appreciate the Commissioner’s consideration of the recommendations of the independent expert panel convened by the Regan-Udall Foundation, as well as the voices of many diverse but united stakeholders in the need to improve the program’s culture of prevention, responsiveness and transparency,” Davis said in a press release. “The fresh produce supply chain needs a strong and engaged FDA to support our nation’s growers and their commitment to continuous improvement of safety, affordability and accessibility of these highly nutritious foods.”