CSPI on the New 'Food Protection Czar'

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson


The appointment yesterday by FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach of David Acheson as the FDA’s food protection czar is a good one. Dr. Acheson is a talented scientist and honest broker, and his presence in the commissioner’s office will give food safety a much higher profile at the top level of the agency.

That said, the problems at FDA are not solvable by rearranging the boxes on the agency’s flowchart. In a perfect world, the nation’s food protection czar would occupy the director’s suite of a single, unified food-safety agency—and not some office down the hall. Having one cabinet secretary responsible for the safety of cheese pizza and another responsible for pepperoni pizza isn’t just a quaint curiosity. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Such an agency would regulate meat and poultry as well as produce and processed food, and would have enough inspectors to equally ensure the safety of wheat gluten from China, hot dogs from Chicago, or spinach from California.

Senators will have an opportunity to at least provide more authority to the FDA as they work on the prescription drug reform bill moving through Congress this week, and I urge them to do so.