New bill would reorganize federal oversight of food, establishing new agency

The Food Safety Administration Act of 2022 would separate the regulation of food from drugs, medical devices, and other products currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced legislation that would establish a new regulatory body in charge of regulating food, called the Food Safety Administration. The Food Safety Administration Act of 2022 would separate the regulation of food from drugs, medical devices, and other products currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and identical legislation was introduced to the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03). During a speech on the Senate floor on July 18, 2022, Durbin highlighted the bill, criticizing FDA for not effectively protecting the public from food contamination, resulting in death from foodborne illnesses.

“The FDA is failing to uphold its most basic food safety responsibility: inspecting facilities. Over the past decade, the number of inspections it performs has fallen by nearly 60 percent. And to add insult to injury: The decline happened after Congress passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, a 2011 bill which I authored that instructed the FDA to increase the number of inspections it performs,” said Durbin, during his speech. “Even when the FDA performs an inspection—and identifies a threat to public health—it doesn’t take timely action. Not even when the problem can sicken and even kill adults, children and infants.It’s hard to imagine. The FDA is adrift. And our most vulnerable people in America—children, mothers, and older Americans are at risk.”

In a statement released the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA; Washington, D.C.), the trade group endorsed the legislation. According to AHPA, the legislation initially would have put dietary supplements under the jurisdiction of the new Federal Drug Administration, but upon objections from AHPA, the new legislation no longer distinguishes dietary supplements from other food. The group's endorsement remains conditional on dietary supplements being regulated as food by the Food Safety Administration.

“In discussing the legislation with our members, we heard strong support for reorganizing federal oversight to increase category-specific experience and expertise in the regulation of food, including dietary supplements – especially in the areas of facility compliance and development of guidances,” said AHPA president Michael McGuffin, in a press release. “AHPA has long advocated for adequate federal resources to ensure that the American public has access to safe dietary supplements, and we are dedicated to continuing this work through our legislative engagement.”