WASHINGTON, October 11, 2022—Joseph Scimeca, PhD, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), submitted formal comments to the Reagan-Udall Foundation Independent Expert Panel on Food charged with evaluating the structure, leadership, authorities, resources and culture of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) human foods program. IDFA’s full comments can be viewed here. Dr. Scimeca summarized his comments in this statement:
“IDFA is grateful to the Reagan-Udall Foundation Independent Expert Panel on Food for undertaking this comprehensive review of the FDA foods program and providing an opportunity to comment on suggested reforms. The outcome of this panel must be to identify gaps at FDA and recommend a comprehensive strategy and timeline to establish the Agency’s strategic priorities, assess resourcing, and reorganize leadership to bring focus, accountability, and transparency to reestablish FDA’s credibility and mission on behalf of consumers.
“First among IDFA’s recommendations is that FDA establish a deputy commissioner for foods to ensure the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and the food personnel of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) have an aligned strategic direction, clear priorities, sound resource management, and internal accountability. Second, IDFA recommends FDA proactively leverage input from outside entities including states, academics, and industry and consumer groups. For example, FDA should reestablish advisory committees and expert panels composed of individuals drawn from academia, industry, and consumer groups. Third, IDFA reiterates its longstanding disappointment in FDA’s lack of progress on modernizing food standards of identity. IDFA recommends FDA create a system for standards that allows food makers to account for innovation, advancements in food science as well as technology, and respond to consumer trends and needs. IDFA has long advocated for such reforms yet, due to the lack of transparency and lack of outreach to industry, standards modernization has failed. Fourth, IDFA supports cultivating within FDA a food safety culture of prevention through continuous improvement and collaboration with academic experts, partners in state regulatory agencies, and industry. FDA policy development, industry guidance, and outreach should be focused on basic, foundation-level food safety practices in collaboration with industry experts.”
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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.