FDA proposes a unified body to regulate human food
By Food in Canada StaffRegulation Food Safety Editor pick U.S. FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposes to create a Human Foods Program under a single leader to enable the agency to oversee human food in a more effective and efficient way.
Under this plan, the functions of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR), as well as certain functions of ORA will be unified into a newly envisioned organization called the Human Foods Program. The FDA will conduct a competitive national search for a deputy commissioner for human foods, who will oversee the Program.
The person in this position will report directly to the commissioner of food drugs and will be charged with leading a unified Human Foods Program that keeps the foods under regulation safe and nutritious, while ensuring the agency remains on the cutting edge of the latest advancements in science, technology, and nutrition.
Other key elements of the proposed new Human Foods Program organization include the creation of a Center for Excellence in Nutrition that prioritizes the agency’s ongoing efforts to help American consumers make more informed food choices. The FDA proposes to establish an Office of Critical Foods, as directed by the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, within this centre.
It proposes the establishment of an Office of Integrated Food Safety System Partnerships that will focus on elevating, co-ordinating and integrating food safety and response activities with state and local regulatory partners to more effectively meet the vision of an Integrated Food Safety System as envisioned in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. This newly proposed structure will ensure greater collaboration and support of state-level inspectional activities.
To help support the agency’s scientifically grounded decision-making activities, a Human Foods Advisory Committee consisting of external experts to advise on challenging and emerging issues in food safety, nutrition and innovative food technologies will be setup.
Finally, there will be an emphasis on strengthening enterprise information technology and analytical capabilities to fulfil the promise described in the New Era of Smarter Food Safety and support the improvement in workflow that will accompany these changes. This area of focus will support the work of the Human Foods Program by enabling more facile communication, more efficient operations and enhanced empirical risk algorithms to guide the priorities of the program and the work in the field.
As part of this proposed new vision, ORA’s operating structure will be transformed into an enterprise-wide organization that supports the Human Foods Program and all other FDA regulatory programs (e.g. agency centres) by focusing on its critical activities. This realignment will allow ORA to be singularly focused on excellence in its core mission – inspections, laboratory testing, import, and investigative operations. This will optimize ORA’s operations in line with FDA’s public health and prevention-oriented goals. Certain other functions of ORA will be aligned in other parts of the FDA to create an overall stronger agency.
While the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) will continue to operate as a stand-alone centre, the relevant food safety activities will be closely co-ordinated between the CVM Center Director and Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. This proposed structure will allow CVM to support the Human Foods Program where its activities are relevant to human food safety.
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