CFSAN: Pinpointing Priorities, Protecting the Public Health

By: Michael Landa 

When I started my first tour with FDA in 1978, I could not have foreseen the challenges we would face today in our mission to protect and promote the public health. 

Who could have predicted the expanding globalization of the food supply? Or the extent to which technology would transform the foods and cosmetics industries and the ways we regulate them? Who knew that today many consumers would be committed to eating fresh, minimally processed, locally sourced foods? 

As director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at FDA, I have seen these and other developments in the shifting landscape of food and cosmetic safety. And I am responsible for helping to establish the priorities that will guide our work. 

To this end, I am pleased to share with you the CFSAN Plan for Program Priorities, 2013-2014. The two-year plan - which is well underway at this time – identifies six key program goals and details how we will achieve them. The goals are: 

  1. Reduce foodborne illness rates and cosmetic injury rates each year.
  2. Establish regulations, policies, guidances, and inspection and compliance strategies based on the best science and strategies for prevention and minimizing public health risk.
  3. Increase compliance with new controls focused on preventing foodborne illness and other health hazards. This includes promoting best agricultural practices to farmers, educating consumers on safe food handling practices, and ensuring that safety standards are consistent for both foreign and domestic foods and cosmetics.
  4. Implement science-based strategies that facilitate healthy diets.
  5. Develop and swiftly deploy the fastest, most effective methods for identifying, containing, and eliminating food and cosmetic hazards.
  6. Achieve optimal use of staff and resources. This includes strengthening leadership and management capabilities, enhancing relationships with other regulatory entities at home and abroad, and reviewing and clarifying administrative roles and responsibilities. 

This is not by any means an exhaustive list of all CFSAN initiatives. The Center is continuing other important work that includes reviewing manufacturer premarket notifications for infant formulas; carrying out pre- and post-market regulation of food ingredients and packaging; monitoring for the presence of chemical contaminants in regulated products; authorizing health and nutrient content claims on food products; seeing to it that violative product labeling for cosmetics is corrected; and reviewing premarket notifications for new dietary ingredients in dietary supplements.  

We remain focused on dedicating our resources – human and otherwise – to meeting all of these goals and responding to the challenges ahead.

I encourage you to look at the strategies we will use and the regulatory blueprints we will follow to ensure that the foods you eat and the cosmetics you and your family use are safe. 

Michael M. Landa is Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

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