Structure and governance

Addressing Structural and Governance Issues at the FDA

The importance of FDA’s mission cannot be overstated. The CPG industry wants and needs the FDA to be successful.   

The CPG industry depends on FDA to perform its regulatory role effectively, efficiently and transparently. In order to elevate and strengthen FDA’s role in supporting the CPG industry in meeting consumer demands and expectations and innovating for enhanced safety and environmental quality in the decades ahead, changes must be made.  

Present Challenges 

The consequences of inaction at FDA are not hypothetical, but real issues the team at Consumer Brands hears about from the 2,000 brands it represents every day. The dominant themes that have emerged from countless conversations are:  

  • The split and siloed food program undercuts communication and collaboration at the expense of efficiency and responsiveness.  
  • Inefficient decision-making slows reviews, hinders progress and even renders innovation obsolete.   
  • Inspector turnover and retirements makes it difficult to keep a well-trained, experienced FDA workforce. 

Change Begins with a Sole Food Program Leader 

Problems in the FDA food program’s organizational structure, governance and performance must be addressed. Specifically, the lack of a single, full-time, fully empowered, expert leader affects all aspects of the FDA’s food program. Inefficient decision making has slowed reviews, hindering progress and even rendering innovation obsolete. Inexperienced and undertrained inspectors are being sent into the field. A split and siloed food program undercuts communication and collaboration at the expense of efficiency and responsiveness.  

Each of the FDA’s major food program units, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), stands to benefit from a common strategic direction, clear priorities, sound resource management and internal accountability that could result from unifying the program under an expert leader who is accountable and responsible for the program.  

Consumer Brands is calling on FDA to unify its food program under a deputy commissioner for foods, with accountability to the commissioner and direct line authority over CFSAN, CVM and the food-related components and operations of ORA.  

The Impact of a Restructured FDA

There is an urgent need for this change. A unified structure and a full-time senior leader translate into results we all care about — focused leadership, accountability and effective dialogue with myriad stakeholders. We believe that the ultimate success of Food Safety Modernization Act, as well as execution of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety blueprint, requires transparency and robust engagement with industry, consumer groups, state associations and other stakeholders. This is lacking under the current structure and governance model. 

FDA can make this change now. The creation of a deputy commissioner for foods does not require an act of Congress or rulemaking. In fact, the position existed during the Obama administration and worked to ensure programs and oversight work at optimal levels. 

Happy family with child and shopping cart buying food at grocery

The CPG industry is accountable to and responsible for the consumers it serves. Working at the speed of the consumer requires a strong, modernized FDA — one that is structured, governed and funded for success. That may not be the case today, but it is also not the fate of tomorrow if the FDA chooses to make smart, needed changes.  

To learn more read Consumer Brands’ comments and coalition letter sent to the Reagan-Udall Foundation.

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