Opinion: FDA should boost food industry regulation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should put renewed emphasis on its underused food-regulatory powers, according to a STAT opinion piece.

The FDA was founded a century ago, spurred in part by deaths from chemical and microbiological contaminants in food. Today, food companies aren’t adding acutely toxic ingredients to their products, but are using highly processed ingredients that promote metabolic changes leading to chronic disease, wrote the authors of the March 14, 2022 article, who included doctor and former U.S. Senator Bill Frist, former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Jerold Mande, former senior adviser to the FDA commissioner and deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and currently an adjunct professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Noting that “food-related illnesses are once again a leading cause of poor health, illness, and death,” Frist, Adams, and Mande called for the Biden administration and Congress to add $200 million to the FDA’s nutrition budget—which currently accounts for only 7% of the agency’s overall budget—and for FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to “direct the agency’s launch of a robust investigation and rulemaking on the harms of today’s foods.”

They added, “Just as it did 100 years ago with food additives … the FDA should uphold its responsibility to ensure that the foods Americans consume make us well instead of sick.”

Read the STAT opinion piece: Commissioner Califf needs to put the F back in FDA