The FDA’s decision to put a deputy commissioner in charge of food safety is getting pushback from industry observers who say she’s not qualified.
In the wake of a nationwide baby formula shortage, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf is trying to straighten out the agency’s response to food safety issues by giving primary responsibility to his principal deputy, Janet Woodcock. She will provide “strategic counsel and enterprise transformation support” to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and other FDA divisions that deal with safety.
Woodcock is an agency veteran who had been serving as acting FDA commissioner before Califf was confirmed. The problem is that her background is in pharmaceuticals and she has no food industry experience, several insiders told Politico.
Woodcock has also been criticized because of the FDA’s inaction during the opioid crisis while she was at the helm. "Appointing someone with a spotty consumer protection record on pharmaceutical products to oversee the food program is such a slap in the face,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.
Politico’s sources said that Woodcock’s new responsibilities will do little to fix the dysfunctional nature of food safety oversight at FDA, which Politico revealed in an exposé. “It’s almost like status quo with an exclamation point,” one of them said.