FDA announces revolutionary changes

Posted: 31 January 2023 | | No comments yet

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf announces big changes for the FDA’s Human Foods Program after the shock resignation of Frank Yiannas last week.

FDA offices Washington

Commissioner Robert Califf today revealed details of changes within the FDA’s Human Foods Program, including the much requested single, unified leader of the Program that will report directly into the Commissioner.

“Today I am announcing a new, transformative vision for the FDA Human Foods Program,” Califf said in his statement.

“Consumers can be confident in the safety of the food they eat each day in part thanks to the work of the FDA’s dedicated workforce. Our ability to continue our work means consistently evolving and adapting with the constantly changing, complex industries we regulate and the emergence of new technologies.

FDA food chief resigns: Why has Frank Yiannas stepped down?

“As a next step, the FDA will need to develop the vision announced today into a concrete reorganizational proposal in close coordination and communication with internal and external stakeholders while ensuring we meet our labour obligations,” Califf concluded in his ground-breaking statement today.

The news has been well received by many in the US food and beverage space, who see the restructuring as a positive step towards a more unified food regulatory system. 

“We see many positive aspects to the proposal released today by FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., outlining a new vision for the FDA Human Foods Program and the Office of Regulatory Affairs to support the FDA organization as a whole,” said Steven Mandernach, Executive Director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO), in a statement given to New Food.
“In particular, we appreciate that his proposal elevates state and local programs who do much of the food safety work, creates a deputy commissioner with streamlined authority, and focuses the agency’s nutrition mission in a Center of Excellence for Nutrition.” 

But, as Mandernach pointed out, there are still some gaps in the strategy announcement made by Commissioner Califf on 31 January. 

“The other thing that I thought the Commissioner still hasn’t fully understood is the relationship between the CVM and Human Food Supply. They are completely linked and addition, if you look at the animal food rule, and the human food rule, they are nearly identical,” Mandernach told New Food in an emergency podcast episode recorded to analyse the FDA news. 

“Having them under separate chains with different reporting relationships just does not seem like a great thing for the industry.”

“It was just one of those deicisons that didn’t make a lot of sense.”

But, as Mandernach pointed out in his statement, “overall, this proposal is a positive step toward improving the ability of the FDA’s human food program to respond to a rapidly changing environment.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Commissioner and others as details are developed to ensure the greatest opportunity for success.” 

It’s important to note that is just the first phase of this project, with more announcements expected in late February – food and beverage manufacturers, retailers and regulators will be eagerly awaiting more detail on what looks to be quite significant structural change within the FDA. 

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