Patience urged over new FDA powers

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Food safety, Fda

Patience urged over new FDA powers
Obtaining new powers for the FDA to recall food products and implement new preventative measures will take time, the Acting Commissioner has said, in a candid viewpoint that recognizes officials’ constraints.

As the grim tale of contamination of peanuts with salmonella has unfolded, calls for new food safety legislation have intensified. A number of new food safety bills have been introduced, including the bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday.

Frank Torti, Acting Commissioner of food and drugs since January, said the outbreak has “exposed the extraordinary constraints of FDA officials”.​ For instance, the FDA has the authority to recall infant formula, but no other food product.

“We need enhanced authority to issue preventative controls for foods, greater access to food records during routine inspections, authority to require food facilities to renew their registrations, and mandatory recall authority,”​ he said.

The FDA is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop new authorities, and plans to present suggestions to Congress.

However Torti said that new controls, together with better communication mechanisms and a science-based strategy, will not be achieved in a few days – or even a few months.

While the sense of urgency is “palpable”,​ the leadership challenge is to harness the energy that exists today, to put the necessary planning and implantation in place even when a crisis is no longer making headlines.

Day and night

Torti said that the FDA, and colleagues in other departments “are working tirelessly to make sure this outbreak is contained and understood”.

For example, inspectors “are working day and night” ​visiting sites across the USA to ensure that recalled products are actually being taken off shelves.

“But I believe people want more from us than our sympathy and hard work. They want our assurance that we will work diligently and intelligently to prevent, to the extent humanly possible, such an outbreak from happening again. Trust has been lost. Trust must be regained.”

Torti’s full viewpoint is available online http://www.fda.gov/oc/viewpoint/

Related topics: Regulation

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