Former US environmental official James Jones was named the US Food and Drug Administration’s top food regulator as the agency recovers from a bruising controversy over its role in a nationwide shortage of infant formula.
(Bloomberg) — Former US environmental official James Jones was named the US Food and Drug Administration’s top food regulator as the agency recovers from a bruising controversy over its role in a nationwide shortage of infant formula.
Jones, who spent three decades at the US Environmental Protection Agency, will be Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, the FDA said Wednesdaly in a statement. Jones also served on a panel that reviewed FDA’s foods program last year, and is currently president of JJones Environmental.
The food regulator has faced scrutiny from critics who say its slow response to questions about safety at an Abbott Laboratories formula manufacturing site led to the shortage. Among the challenges facing Jones is unifying the FDA’s various food divisions, whose competing leadership and interests were scrutinized in the outside review of the FDA’s food divisions last year.
Food responsibilities at the FDA are shared among the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Office of Food Policy and Response and parts of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. The report, led by the Reagan-Udall Foundation, said that structure “reinforces duplicative or competing roles and responsibilities, siloed work, and inadequate internal and external engagement.”
Frank Yiannas, who served as deputy commissioner for food policy and response, resigned from his position in January, citing concerns about inheriting a decentralized structure of the foods program that he said significantly impaired the agency’s ability to operate as an integrated team and protect the public. Susan Mayne, who previously led the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, announced her retirement in May.
The agency aims to address this problem with the appointment of Jones, who will have full authority over all food-related resources. In response to the report, the agency in June proposed changes to the Office of Regulatory Affairs, which is responsible for conducting investigations, inspections and imports for all FDA-regulated products.
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