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FDA Commissioner Defends Food-Related Activities of the Agency

03/20/2023

Using social media, Dr. Robert Califf is responding to criticism of the FDA with respect to food- related issues that occurring before and now during his tenure.  In a recent post he stated, “There should be no question in anyone’s mind that the FDA is a top priority for me.  We have accomplished a tremendous amount in the last ten years to make the American food supply safe as it has ever been and improve the nutritional quality of foods.”

 

These self-adulatory statements are at variance with facts that indicate a lack of concern over regulation of food.  These include:-

  • Past outbreaks of salmonellosis and colibacillosis associated with leafy greens grown in California and Arizona.  It is obvious that irrigation water is contaminated with ruminant  feces and that there is no positive kill step required to prevent infection of consumers. Resolution through prevention is not being directly addressed by the FDA.

 

  • Revelations that fruit juices contain violative levels of heavy metals.

 

  • Failure to conduct field inspections of food plants during the 20-month COVID period

  • Neglecting oversight of the few large plants producing a high proportion of the Nation’s infant formula.  The FDA delayed responding to a whistleblower’s document alleging concealment of contamination and falsification of records.

 

  • The FDA has been passive in promoting healthy food options including restrictions on levels of salt and fat in processed foods.

 

  • The Regan Udall Review demonstrated serious deficiencies in the organizational structure of the food-related missions within the FDA.  Despite recommendations to centralize responsibility and authority, Dr. Califf has proposed an organization structure that is inappropriate to the challenges facing the Agency. Irrespective of his social media posts, widespread criticism of his management is mounting and his requests for additional funds will generate resistance from both sides of the aisle in Congress.

 

 

EGG-NEWS joins many commentators including Attorney William Marler in calling for a separate food safety agency that should combine the currently split functions of the FDA and FSIS.