FDA Slows Down Enforcement Actions

July 3, 2019
The Trump administration has significantly slowed the intensity of enforcement by the FDA.

The Trump administration has significantly slowed the intensity of enforcement by the FDA, as measured by the agency’s issuance of warning letters and other actions, according to a report by Science magazine.

A study by Science of the agency’s actions during comparable periods of the Trump and Obama administrations showed that warning letters have fallen by a third overall. Letters from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition fell 37%, from 142 under Obama to 89 under Trump. The Science article looked at enforcement actions from Trump’s inauguration through May 22 and the “most recent equivalent period under former President Obama.”

“Industry may well take the message from this that the cop is not on the beat as often,” Peter Lurie, a former FDA executive who now heads the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in the article.

Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner until March, responded to Science that the lower numbers were a result of the agency becoming more efficient. “I don’t think you can paint us with a political narrative—that just because we were a Republican administration, somehow we must have ratcheted down enforcement activity. We didn’t,” he said.

In May, Food Processing reported on the the decrease in food recalls, which was attributed to the governtment shutdown of late 2018. 

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