Well Done


In a sizable step toward reorganizing the Human Foods Program (HFP or Program) to rehaul the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) current food infrastructure to better coordinate the agency’s regulation of food products, FDA announced the selection of James Jones, a former Environmental Protection Agency official, to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for HFP.

FDA first announced its plans to reorganize the Program on January 31, 2023. The agency proposed the reorganization after an evaluation by the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s independent expert food panel identified deficiencies in FDA’s culture, structure, resources, and authorities in the food space.

Specifically, the evaluation indicated that the current structure is duplicative and allows for “siloed work.” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf had requested the evaluation after receiving criticism over how the agency handled the infant formula shortage, which was caused by FDA-mandated closures of manufacturing plants that produced contaminated baby formula.

To address the deficiencies that the expert food panel identified in its evaluation, FDA’s reorganization consolidates the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR), and certain functions of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) to form a unified human foods program under a single leader.

As the Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Jones will report directly to Commissioner Califf and have decision-making authority over the HFP’s policy, strategy, regulatory program activities, resources, and risk priorities.

The Program areas would include “food safety, chemical safety, and innovative food products, including those from new agricultural technologies, that will bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, as well as nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity.” Jones, who is scheduled to start at FDA on September 24, 2023, was part of the expert panel that evaluated FDA.

While FDA still refers to the Program as the “proposed” unified Human Foods Program, by selecting Jones as Deputy Commissioner FDA has signaled that the reorganization is well underway.