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FDA’s Food Program Reforms Fall Short of What’s Needed to Protect the Public

Consumer Reports and Coalition of Groups Had Urged the FDA to Strengthen Leadership and Accountability at the Agency Under an Empowered Deputy Commissioner 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s plan to redesign its food program fails to address the fundamental problems at the agency that have hampered its ability to ensure our food is safe, according to Consumer Reports. The reforms announced today follow an external review by the Reagan-Udall Foundation ordered by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf that concluded that the agency’s culture, organizational structure and governance model have undermined its effectiveness.


“We’re disappointed that the FDA’s plan falls short of what’s needed to strengthen the agency’s ability to protect the public and keep our food safe,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.  “The FDA’s plan fails to ensure that all of the agency’s food program staff will work together seamlessly with a common strategic direction, clear priorities, sound resource management, and internal accountability. We’ll continue to urge Commissioner Califf to strengthen leadership and accountability at the FDA to modernize its food program, emphasize prevention and enable it to better protect the public when problems arise.”


For the past year, Consumer Reports has joined with an unprecedented coalition of 30 organizations representing consumers, industry leaders, and local regulators and called for more focused leadership and accountability at the FDA. The coalition urged Commissioner Califf to  unify the food program under a deputy commissioner for foods with accountability to the FDA commissioner and direct line authority over the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the food-related components of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). 

“This plan essentially cements the current dysfunctional structure at the FDA that led to the infant formula crisis and contributed to other longstanding problems that have plagued the agency,” Ronholm said.  “These reforms fail to unify the food program under one empowered leader and provide the deputy commissioner with the broad authority and accountability needed to integrate and coordinate all of the human and animal food resources and activities at the agency.”    


Contact: Michael McCauley, Michael.mccauley@consumer.org