Is the wait nearly over for FDA updates?
Reporting on what Donald Prater from the FDA has to say about updates at the Administration, Grace Galler highlights key takeaways from his talk at IAFP 2023.
It’s no secret that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is undergoing major changes at the moment.
New Food has kept its readers updated in the last few months with the FDA’s plan to create a Human Foods Program , as well as with its search to find a Deputy Commissioner, but members of the food and beverage industry are still waiting with baited breath to find out exactly who this single unified leader will be.
Previously, New Food’s Grace Galler spoke to Sarah Gallo from Consumer Brands Association (CBA) about its stance on the changes that are underway at the FDA. Gallo made CBA’s concerns clear when she commented: “We have been very vocal that we have some concerns about how much the Deputy Commissioner will truly be empowered to oversee the Human Foods Program.”
However since then, Donald Prater, Acting Director for Centre of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, took to the stage at IAFP 2023 in Toronto, Canada, to inform a packed room exactly where the Administration is at in terms of its decision making.
Explaining that the FDA is actively “taking a step back and looking at the functions of how [it] works”, Prater defined the current adjustments as “the biggest change he’s ever seen in his career”.
“It a historic opportunity”, said Prater, “the human food landscape is rapidly evolving and we don’t see it slowing down”.
Is the search nearly over?
Despite knowing audience members were keen to know exactly when the name of new Deputy Commissioner will be announced, Prater did not disclose a specific date, however he did state: “The recruitment for the Deputy Commissioner is going on right now, I think they’re actually getting pretty close”.
When taking questions from the audience, Prater confirmed that “there will be an announcement for the Deputy Commissioner in the near future”.
Bringing ideas to the table
Outlining how the FDA is planning to take progressive steps as it looks to the future, Prater summarised that, in the 21st century, he believes “better food safety begins and ends with better data.
“We’ve had more than we’ve ever had. Maybe five years ago we were swimming in data and it was like finding a needle in a haystack, but now we have more technology.”
Prater went on to define the Human Foods Program as a chance to allow the FDA to look at how it is going to “adapt and position [itself] in the 21st century”, and it is keen for members of the food and beverage industry to speak up and bring ideas to the table.
Now certainly seems to be a time of great change at the FDA but this “isn’t just going to be another reorganisation”, according to Prater, rather it “will be doing things differently” as and when the Deputy Commissioner takes the reigns of the Human Foods Program.