FDA’s recently maligned CFSAN director speaks out  in defense of budget

FDA’s recently maligned CFSAN director speaks out in defense of budget

by Sue Jones
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Dr. Susan Mayne of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition was scheduled to speak to the  Alliance for a Stronger FDA Tuesday morning, the first such appearance since the Politico newspaper called her out.

Politico reported that Mayne, the director of the Center, reports directly to the FDA Commissioner and not to Frank Yiannas, the FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response. Previously CFSAN reported through the deputy commissioner, but the reporting structure was changed by the administration when Yiannas joined FDA in December 2018.

Politico reports that  “the two leaders also do not get along, according to numerous current and former officials” with  Mayne being called  “competitive” with Yiannas and causing friction at the top.

The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)  has a budget that exceeds $1.1 billion per year and is responsible for the safety of human foods, cosmetics, and dietary supplements, according to the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

The Center is also responsible for fostering good nutrition. President Biden’s FY 2023 budget request “will allow the agency to improve prevention-oriented food safety practices, strengthen data sharing and predictive analytics capabilities and enhance traceability to more quickly respond to outbreaks and recalls for human and animal food.”

Mayne spoke about  CFSAN’s FY23 budget priorities and resource needs. She joined  FDA in 2015 from the epidemiology and chronic disease department at Yale’s School of Public Health,

Disputes between Mayne and Yiannas were reported to involve such basics as to how to investigate a foodborne illness outbreak. Michael Taylor, the former FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, who had direct oversight of CFSAN, said “FDA’s fragmented structure and cautious culture are built-in obstacles to strong leadership and timely decisions,”

Sen. Patty Murray, who chairs the powerful Senate Health, Education, and Pensions Committee, said “the Politico report that lays bare a culture of delay and inaction in the agency’s food safety and nutrition center, which has endangered families’ health and safety.

I am deeply concerned about a new report into longstanding, significant delays and dysfunction across food safety efforts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” Sen.  Murray said.  “Americans rely on the FDA to ensure the food they are eating and feeding their families is safe. The FDA’s failure over decades to regulate and enforce food safety standards, on issues ranging from bacteria in vegetables to arsenic in baby food, has put the health of Americans at risk.”

In a letter,  Murray asked the FDA Commissioner to “make these issues a priority and take immediate action to ensure the FDA is doing all it can to fulfill all aspects of its mission to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

Clarification:   The entire budget for FDA’s food programs is $1.1 billion with the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) taking about two-thirds of the total and CFSAN accounting for about one-third or $345 million.

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