Report: To Ensure Food Safety, FDA Needs Big Changes

Dec. 8, 2022
Food safety oversight is lacking because the agency has no clear line of command, according to an outside review.

The FDA needs to be overhauled to make food safety enforcement more effective, according to a report by an outside agency.

The report from the Reagan-Udall Foundation recommended sweeping changes, including the establishment of a single individual in charge of food safety. Other recommendations include the FDA sharing information better internally and using its mandatory recall authority more often, especially for “life-sustaining” products like baby formula.

A baby-formula crisis provided the impetus for the review by Reagan-Udall, an independent policy group. A shutdown of an Abbott Laboratories formula plant in connection with an illness outbreak led to a nationwide shortage of formula that lasted for much of this year.

The report said that the crisis was exacerbated by the lack of a clear line of command in food safety issues. That responsibility is now split between a deputy commissioner for food policy and response, and the head of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. That situation leads to a lack of communication within the agency that slows down its response in critical food-safety situations, the report says.

The report’s most radical recommendation is to break the FDA into two separate food and drug agencies, which would require an act of Congress. Short of that, the agency should be reorganized so that there is a clear line of command and responsibility for food safety. The report also recommends establishing a Center for Nutrition to encourage Americans to eat healthier.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

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