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The Houston Chronicle reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has abandoned a program that would have had it closing more than half of its field laboratories, saying that the agency needed to take a “fresh look” at the challenges facing it and possible solutions.

The move came less than a month after FDA said it was temporarily backing of the lab closing program that it had said would allow it to be more efficient but that others had criticized as being more focused on cost-saving than effectiveness. Congressional investigators charged that if the plan to cut the number of testing laboratories in half were implemented, the FDA would be unable to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.

FDA had said that it would not implement the plan until the report by the imported food safety task force created by President Bush offered its recommendations in mid-September. However, it now appears that the lab closing proposal is a dead issue.
KC's View:
No surprise here. Without passing judgment on whether closing the labs was a good idea or not from a safety point of view, it certainly was easy to tell it was a non-starter. Americans didn’t like to see headlines about contaminated food over one column and then stories about closing FDA labs elsewhere in the paper. It just didn’t synch.