WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2023—Joseph Scimeca, PhD, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), issued this statement today in response to Commissioner Robert Califf’s proposed changes to the Human Foods Program at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
“On behalf of the dairy food processing industry, IDFA is grateful to Commissioner Califf for proposing a Vision for a Reimagined FDA Human Foods Program, released earlier today. The proposed Vision is thoughtful and seeks to consider the many years of feedback from industry stakeholders, including IDFA, as well as the recommendations made late last year by the Reagan-Udall Foundation, to ensure FDA is prioritizing the ‘F’ in FDA and putting first the safety of food for consumers and the concerns of food makers in being able to innovate to meet consumer needs. We strongly encourage the FDA to continue to seek and accept feedback from key stakeholders as they advance the process to implement the proposed changes in the Vision. FDA must prioritize collaboration, transparency, and accountability throughout the process to improve the Human Foods Program.
“IDFA stands ready to work with FDA on issues of food safety, nutrition, and innovation in the food processing arena, and supports calls for stronger internal systems to support each priority. However, the plan released today does not address in any detail how FDA plans to solve the bureaucratic, opaque process to update the hundreds of food and beverage standards that remain woefully outdated and hinder innovation. As FDA considers next steps in this plan, we strongly encourage greater focus on creating a culture that values transparency, a system of clear accountability, and collaboration with food manufacturers to ensure two-way feedback in updating manufacturing processes that are more responsive to consumer demands.
“We are pleased to see the FDA propose to establish a deputy commissioner for the Human Foods Program that includes the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and portions of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). This single act, if implemented to ensure collaboration and accountability to FDA stakeholders, will begin to advance positive change at FDA provided the appointed deputy commissioner possesses the necessary leadership and food safety qualifications. We are disappointed, however, that this new remit will not include the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), where there is significant overlap with human health. Details will matter in how the new deputy commissioner manages the reorganized Human Foods Program and the proof will be in the pudding.
“We are also pleased to see the FDA move to reestablish a feedback loop from external experts through the Human Food Advisory Committee.
“IDFA has long advocated for many of the reforms proposed today and stands ready to support FDA’s new Vision. In the past, similar efforts have failed due to the lack of transparency and lack of outreach to key stakeholders, including industry. We encourage FDA to learn from the lessons of the past, embrace collaboration, build a system of accountability, and embrace a culture of continuous improvement.”
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3.3 million jobs that generate $41.6 billion in direct wages and $753 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.