The coalition wants to meet with a Senate committee to discuss FDA leadership

A coalition of consumer and industry groups is seeking a meeting with a Senate committee on the FDA chief and his response to a recent report calling for a reorganization of the agency.

The coalition consists of the Consumer Brand Association, Consumer Reports, STOP Foodborne Illness, the International Fresh Produce Association, the Environmental Working Group, and the American Frozen Food Institute.

The group sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions this week regarding FDA Commissioner Robert Calif’s response to a report he commissioned. The report from the Reagan Udall Foundation, released in December 2022, calls for the reinstatement of the deputy commissioner position within the Food and Drug Administration. The foundation also said it was essential for the deputy commissioner to have direct authority over operations on the food side of the FDA, including food safety efforts.

The coalition’s letter to the Senate committee states, “We believe that creating a deputy commissioner with direct authority over all components of the FDA’s human and animal food program is foundational to the agency’s success.”

“We are concerned that the commissioner’s plan, as announced and described in his letter on March 9, will not do what is needed to protect consumers and facilitate collaboration and innovation in industry. While we very much share Dr. Kalev’s vision, we are concerned that the proposed changes to The internal documents won’t go far enough to eliminate the regulatory and communication failures that contributed to the infant formula crisis or address the cultural challenges that continue to plague the FDA.

“We request a meeting with you and your team to share our ideas in support of the FDA’s public health mission. We appreciate your interest in this.”

The coalition points to a foundation report—commissioned by Calef himself in the summer of 2022 after a breakdown in communications within the Food and Drug Administration regarding the infant formula crisis—which repeatedly called for a reorganization of the agency. She points out that Calef said he wanted a deputy food commissioner to handle all aspects of the food program and its resources, including field operations. However, the coalition also points out that the details of Calif’s plan for the deputy commissioner do not give the position the authority it needs to carry out that mission.

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