Senate confirms Califf as FDA commissioner
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Biden’s nomination of Robert Califf as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
The vote was a narrow 50 to 46.
Califf’s actions or inaction regarding drugs and opioids were controversial during his tenure as FDA commissioner during the Obama administration, but today food executives expressed hope that he will address their issues this time around.
Mary Dwight, president of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA and senior vice president, chief policy and advocacy officer at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said, “The Food and Drug Administration is important to our nation’s health and its economy, which is why we believe it is so critical to have a Senate-confirmed commissioner. We congratulate Dr. Califf and send our thanks to those who made his confirmation possible.”
National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern said, “We congratulate Dr. Robert Califf on his confirmation as FDA commissioner. We are cheering for his success at a particularly challenging time, given the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to address the opioids crisis and other public health issues. We are heartened that, in addition to these concerns, he has also cited addressing the proliferation of plant-based products mislabeled as dairy a ‘priority’ issue under his leadership.
“Nutritional confusion over the products is real, with meaningful public health implications, and the Biden administration has promised guidance by mid-year. We look forward to working with Dr. Califf as he resolves this long-standing, and growing, concern.”
Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, congratulated Califf, adding “IDFA encourages Dr. Califf to put the ‘F’ back in the FDA by focusing attention on making FDA more efficient and nimbler for consumers and more responsive to the feedback of industry.
“The FDA is one of the most important regulatory agencies within the federal government because it ensures the safety and security of our nation’s food supply. For decades, FDA leaders have promised to modernize food standards while allowing food makers more flexibility for innovation in response to shifting consumer demands and trends. However, food standards have become more complex and onerous, the FDA’s response times on pending rules and petitions have increased, and promises to streamline rulemaking have not been kept. IDFA and our member companies are hopeful for a more collaborative relationship with FDA on matters of food safety, food standards, labeling, and nutrition and health.
“As a cardiologist, Dr. Califf has a keen understanding of the impact of diet on human health. We hope that as FDA continues to refine its regulatory positions, FDA experts not only recognize dairy’s crucial role in a healthy diet beginning at a very young age, but also allow research showing the benefits of dairy fat to be considered in federal nutrition guidance,” Dykes concluded.
Pet Food Institute President and CEO Dana Brooks said, “Food safety is the top priority for PFI members as they work to provide complete and balanced nutrition for pets in the United States and around the world. This means that the FDA is an important partner to pet food makers, particularly as the agency continues surveillance and compliance efforts under the Food Safety Modernization Act. We urge FDA to work with its stakeholders and maintain the application of sound and science-driven policies, while ensuring the food is safe for pets.”
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