WASHINGTON, December 6, 2022—Joseph Scimeca, PhD, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), issued the following statement today on the Reagan-Udall Foundation Independent Expert Panel review on the structure, leadership, authorities, resources and culture of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) human foods program:

“Today’s Reagan-Udall Foundation review of the FDA Human Foods Program only underscores the importance of reforming the FDA to streamline their regulatory activities, increase transparency, better respond to shifting consumer demands and trends, and put in place a management and organizational structure that can drive internal alignment, decision-making, and action, as well as being accountable to lawmakers and taxpayers.

“The report finds that the lack of ‘an overarching leader of the Human Foods Program has contributed to a culture of indecisiveness and inaction and created disincentives for collaboration.’ Since Dr. Califf was nominated to serve as Commissioner of the FDA, IDFA has encouraged leaders in the Biden Administration to put the ‘F’ back in the FDA by focusing attention on making FDA more efficient and nimbler for consumers and more responsive to the feedback of industry. A central recommendation by IDFA and other food industry organizations and non-governmental organizations has been to create a new Deputy Commissioner for Foods—a recommendation echoed in the Reagan-Udall review. The FDA is one of the most important regulatory agencies within the federal government because it ensures the safety and security of our nation’s food supply. However, FDA remains one of the most significant impediments to bringing healthy and innovative food products to the marketplace to meet domestic consumer demands and counter foreign competition due to its lack of internal leadership and collaboration with stakeholders, including industry.  

“For decades, FDA leaders have promised to modernize food standards to allow food makers more flexibility for innovation in response to shifting consumer demands and trends. However, food standards have become more complex and onerous, the FDA’s response times on pending rules and petitions has increased and promises to streamline rulemaking have not been kept.

“Other areas of the report call for strengthening the use of existing authority or raising new authorities, with recommendations made for increased resources.  On new or increased authorities, IDFA urges caution and believes efforts to seek incremental funding should only be based on clearly identifiable operational gaps and/or regulatory activities that are directly tied to the advancement of public health and only when the FDA’s budget expenditures for the food program are fully transparent.

“IDFA is hopeful that this review by the Reagan-Udall Foundation pushes the Biden Administration and leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure FDA builds and cultivates a culture of collaboration and accountability on matters of food safety, food standards, labeling, and nutrition and health.

“IDFA and the U.S. dairy industry continue to offer our partnership to FDA and look forward to being part of the discussions related to how some of the Reagan-Udall recommendations could be implemented.”

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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.

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Matt Herrick

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