‘A unified food program comprised of all elements of the agency'
AFFI cites recommendations presented in a report from Reagan-Udall Foundation that calls for a bold restructure of FDA’s leadership and organization.
As reported last year by FoodNavigator-USA, the Foundation recommends the centralization of human food components currently spread across three ofFDA’s divisions (Office of Food Policy and Response, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and parts of the Office of Regulatory Affairs) under one program, led by one director—a Deputy Commissioner of Food.
Given the Reagan-Udall Foundation is an independent non-profit created by Congress to modernize the FDA’s framework, AFFI, along with other industry organizations, are calling to unify the food program in an otherwise “divided and siloed” organization with a Deputy Commissioner of Food at the helm. This role will oversee “a unified food program comprised of all elements of the agency that have roles in the regulation of human and animal food,” Alison Bodor, president, AFFI, explained to FoodNavigator-USA.
“AFFI was particularly pleased to see a recommendation for a strong and empowered leader of foods who could make the necessary cultural and organizational changes that impact food safety,” Bodor remarked of the Foundation’s recommendation.
Despite FDA Commissioner Robert Califf’s announcement to restructure the agency, plans so far have fallen short of AFFI's desire, ultimately “[impacting] the ability of the agency to set mission priorities and [allowing] for quick and effective decision-making regarding food safety,” Bodor said.
AFFI also supports a recommendation that FDA adopt a prevention-centric approach to safety “as required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)” for foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.
Bodor added that the creation of a Deputy Commissioner of Food “would result in a more predictable regulatory process for industry and an agency that could respond quickly and effectively to food safety matters.”
Increasing opportunities for SNAP recipients to receive frozen fruits and vegetables
Introduced by U.S. Represntatives Mark Alford (R-Mo.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), the SHOPP Act will bring more opportunities for SNAP recipients to buy frozen produce.
Currently, SNAP and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) “can close a produce intake gap among lower income households,” as both programs support fresh produce consumption, according to AFFI’s May 9 press release.
AFFI added that the SHOPP Act would amend the GusNIP framework to promote or incentivize frozen produce consumption for SNAP recipients; as well as expand the USDA’s Prescription Produce Program to include frozen fruits, vegetables and legumes along with fresh produce.
Citing a Cornell University 2023 literature review, Boder explained that the sustainability benefits of frozen foods in regard to food waste is worth promoting. The study found that frozen food is “wasted less frequently than its fresh counterparts at retail stores and in households,” due to its longer shelf life and pre-portioned servings.