business news in context, analysis with attitude

From the New York Times:

"The Food and Drug Administration’s food division has no clear leadership, avoids bold policy or enforcement actions, and fosters a culture that doesn’t adequately protect public health, according to a report issued on Tuesday by an agency-related group.

"Experts with the group, the Reagan-Udall Foundation, which was asked to examine the food division after widespread criticism stemming from the infant formula crisis, concluded in the report that the division’s management structure and mission should be overhauled.

"Dr. Robert Califf, the agency commissioner, released a statement Tuesday saying he would form a group to advise him on the findings and on how to put the recommendations in place. The infant formula crisis was the first major challenge that Dr. Califf confronted this year as commissioner, although the agency has also faced criticism over the regulation of vaping and tobacco products, which prompted a similar review of its tobacco division."

The story goes on:

"Congressional lawmakers and others have long called for strengthening the authority and influence of the agency’s food division, given the effects of foods like added sugar and salt on deadly chronic diseases and the toll of food-borne illnesses that account for an estimated 128,000 U.S. hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

"The report followed years of complaints that the food unit was toothless, a criticism that was amplified by what critics viewed as the agency’s plodding and disorganized response to reports of infant illness and death and unsanitary conditions at the Abbott Nutrition infant formula plant in Michigan. The agency’s shutdown of the factory in February aggravated an infant formula shortage that left parents scrambling to feed their babies for months earlier this year."