December 6, 2022
Washington, D.C. and Newark De. – International Fresh Produce Association has provided a map of IFPA efforts to advocate for improved efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and collaboration at the FDA. The update comes before the Reagan-Udall Foundation is expected to issue a report commissioned by the FDA to provide holistic recommendations to strengthen the foods program.
“The produce industry needs a strong FDA that provides strong, effective leadership for food,” said IFPA’s Chief Food Safety and Regulatory Officer Jennifer McEntire. “For too long, food programs have been given a backseat to the FDA’s drug and medical device programs. We appreciate FDAs openness to stakeholder concerns and calls for change, and IFPA will continue to advocate for an FDA that prioritizes health and nutrition.”
Here is a summary of IFPA’s advocacy for improvements at the FDA so far:
- April: Jennifer McEntire is included in POLITICO’s exposé on FDA dysfunction. McEntire spoke to FDA delays in issuing a re-proposal to the agricultural water requirements in the Produce Safety rule.
- Late April/May: IFPA joins a large coalition to send a letter to the FDA commissioner asking for an empowered deputy commissioner for foods.
- May-present: IFPA begins meeting with leaders across the food sector from Consumer Reports, STOP foodborne illness, EWG, Consumer Brands, AFDO and later, Western Growers and AFFI. This weekly meeting has also included guests like journalist Helena Bottemiller Evich, Susan Winckler from Reagan-Udall Foundation, and staff from key Congressional offices.
- June: McEntire, along with a Consumer Brands representative, spoke with the FDA Commissioner on behalf of the food industry during a coalition call. IFPA CEO Cathy Burns speaks with the Commissioner separately, as part of a meeting with food and beverage association CEOs.
- August: McEntire meets with House Energy and Commerce staff to follow up on letter they sent to the Commissioner.
- September: McEntire serves as the only food industry representative to speak on the Reagan-Udall food safety panel to inform their expert report to be submitted to the FDA.
- October: IFPA submits written comments and also signed onto a coalition letter to inform Reagan-Udall report.
- October: McEntire serves on webinar along with former Deputy Commissioner for Foods Dr. Stephen Ostroff and Steven Mandernach of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) to discuss needed FDA reforms.
- November: McEntire crafts Op-ed run in Agripulse titled “Has FDA embraced the food safety culture it touts?”
- December: McEntire serves with Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, Mandernach, and Invariant’s Adam Tarr on webinar moderated by Helena Bottemiller Evich to discuss food safety in the 118th Congress.
“Experts across the food industry have been adamant about the need to implement a leadership structure and team that can help the FDA achieve the goals laid out by FSMA,” said McEntire. “We hope that the FDA Commissioner acts on the consensus recommendations from stakeholders and prioritizes food programs. We look forward to the recommendations from the Reagan-Udall Foundation and will update our members on the next steps following the published report.”
The report is expected to be shared in the coming week and IFPA will review the report and provide updates to the industry on likely next steps. For the most up-to-date information on this topic, follow IFPA’s social channels.