Food is not a high priority at the Food and Drug Administration.
A monthslong POLITICO investigation — based on more than 50 interviews — found that drugs and other medical products dominate food at the agency, both in budget and bandwidth. Over the years, the food side of FDA has been so ignored and grown so dysfunctional that even former FDA commissioners readily acknowledged problems. There’s a long running joke among officials: The “F” in FDA is silent.
The dynamic has only been exacerbated during the pandemic. The FDA regulates nearly 80 percent of the American food supply, and each year — according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — more than 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 people die from foodborne illnesses.
We published a deep dive into the agency’s structural failures, lack of action to prevent major produce outbreaks and slowness to try to make food healthier. We encourage you to bookmark it and read it in full.
In the meantime, here are four top-level takeaways.
- The food division has structural and leadership problems
- Congress asked FDA to regulate water to keep deadly pathogens out of produce. 11 years later, it still hasn’t.
- FDA made little progress on keeping toxic elements out of baby foods.
- FDA has not taken timely action to help cut sodium consumption