Outside agencies report that the FDA needs to overhaul its food safety enforcement to be more effective.
Report from the Reagan-Udall Foundation Recommended Breaking Changes, including the establishment of a single individual responsible for food safety. Other recommendations include better internal FDA sharing of information and more frequent use of mandatory recall powers, especially for “life-sustaining” products like infant formula.
The baby formula crisis prompted a review by an independent policy group, Reagan Udall. The closure of Abbott Laboratories’ formula plant in connection with the disease outbreak has led to a nationwide shortage of formula for most of the year.
The crisis was exacerbated by the lack of a clear chain of command in food safety matters, according to the report. That responsibility is now shared between the Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response and the Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. Such situations lead to a lack of communication within authorities, slowing response in critical food safety situations, the report said.
The report’s most radical recommendation is to split the FDA into two separate food and drug agencies, which requires a congressional action. Not only that, the agency needs to be reorganized so that there is a clear chain of command and responsibility for food safety. The report also recommends establishing nutrition centers to encourage Americans to eat healthier.