U.S – The Consumer Brands Association (CBA), a United States-wide trade association for manufacturers of consumer packaged goods, has reiterated the need for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make bold reforms that incorporate full unification of the Human and Animal Foods Program under an expert leader.

This follows the agency’s announcement regarding recommendations in the Reagan-Udall Foundation report proposing changes to the agency’s foods program. 

Roberta Wagner, Vice President Regulatory and Technical Affairs commended the FDA Commissioner for moving the needle on unified calls to appoint a Deputy Commissioner for Foods to elevate the program’s function and importance and initiate critical culture change and modernization. 

He however pointed out that the program fails to provide the Deputy Commissioner with direct line authority over all major foods program components or fully integrate the agency’s policymakers with its inspection force. 

“We are concerned that anything short of this and a fully empowered Deputy Commissioner will make it difficult to truly unify the program and deploy the prevention mindset envisioned under the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Wagner said.

Upon the publication of the report, Consumer Brands recognized the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s efforts to enhance the food program and joined a coalition statement identifying specific changes FDA should take in response.

According to the CBA, a unified Human and Animal Foods Program would mean unifying into a cohesive organizational structure — headed by the Deputy Commissioner — the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), the food and feed-related activities of the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and all the food-related components of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), including inspection and compliance, food-related laboratories, import oversight, state partnerships, training, and information technology.

It noted that the empowered Deputy Commissioner should be viewed internally and externally as the Commissioner’s surrogate for all FDA food activities and as the agency’s leader, spokesperson, and decision-maker for the foods program. 

“We encourage the Commissioner to be bold and continue exploring durable solutions that will enable the agency to move at the speed of the consumer to ensure they have access to the essential goods they rely on.”

Roberta Wagner, Vice President Regulatory and Technical Affairs


The position should have the authority and standing within FDA and HHS, to represent FDA on foods program issues and funding before Congress, within the executive branch, as well as with stakeholders and foreign partners.

An elevated more prominent Foods Program

The association also called for a culture change and modernization within the foods program.

It claimed that the current fragmented structure and lack of central authority and leadership contributes to a culture of silos, indecision, inaction, and delay in implementing the prevention mindset called for in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). 

According to the Association, the Deputy Commissioner should also be mandated to modernize the program in a way that facilitates transparency, timeliness, and meaningful stakeholder engagement as part of its decision-making process.

“We encourage the Commissioner to be bold and continue exploring durable solutions that will enable the agency to move at the speed of the consumer to ensure they have access to the essential goods they rely on. 

“The Commissioner’s sustained empowerment and support will be critical as the new Deputy Commissioner pursues accountability and oversight of many critical functions,” said Wagner.

FDA’s Deputy Commissioner, Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas recently resigned citing that the decentralized structure of the foods program significantly impaired the FDA’s ability to operate as an integrated food team and protect the public.

As such, he recommended the creation of a more integrated operating structure and a fully empowered and experienced Deputy Commissioner for Foods, with direct oversight of those centers and offices responsible for human and animal foods.

The FDA reviewed the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s external evaluation, along with a separate internal examination of the agency’s infant formula supply chain response that was finished last year, before making their final decision.

These evaluations’ conclusions and suggestions identified problems with culture, structure, resources, and authorities.

They also noted several areas of need, including modernizing data systems, providing more resources and authority, improving emergency response systems, and building a more robust regulatory program.

The Consumer Brands Association champions the industry whose products Americans depend on every day, representing nearly 2,000 iconic brands. 

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.