Eshoo with Bipartisan E&C Leaders Request Update from FDA Commissioner on Agency’s Food Safety Reform Efforts

July 12, 2022
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf today to request an update on the agency’s plans for strengthening its food safety efforts.

“The Committee has long held concerns regarding FDA’s food safety inspection and coordination activities,” the bipartisan Committee leaders wrote. “As recently discussed with FDA, current events surrounding the infant formula recall and shortage have further amplified questions about the agency’s execution of its responsibilities to ensure food safety in the United States. During a May 25, 2022, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, you testified that you ‘did not return to the FDA to preside over business as usual’ and that you ‘will be looking at the overall food program from the perspective of reforming it.’ We are encouraged by this statement but seek further details and a timeline as the nation continues to face food safety and supply challenges.”

 The Committee leaders cite in their letter concerns over recent reports of bacterial or viral contamination of common foods, such as in peanut butter, strawberries, peaches, and cheese. The leaders note these concerns demonstrate the urgency to review FDA’s food program.

“Foodborne illness in the United States is a common and costly public health challenge, sickening about 48 million people—roughly one in six Americans—hospitalizing 128,000, and killing 3,000 each year,” the Committee leaders continued. “The very young, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of serious consequences from most foodborne illnesses.  FDA’s responsibility to ensure the safety of approximately 80 percent of the food supply, including virtually all foods other than meat, poultry, processed egg products, and catfish, and to monitor food manufacturing firms and the foods they produce is paramount to protecting the most vulnerable among us.”

As part of their inquiry, the bipartisan Committee leaders requested that the FDA provide the following: 

  • The plan for assessing the agency’s ability to execute its food safety responsibilities and for implementing reforms necessary to strengthen overall food safety infrastructure and response and close any gaps identified during the assessment; 
  • The timeline for implementing the plan and associated assessment; and 
  • What, if any, additional authorities or resources may be necessary from Congress for FDA to implement the plan.  

To read the full letter, click HERE