FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb (seated, left), and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue sign an agreement Jan. 30 at the White House stating the agencies will work together on food safety and other issues. ( Photo courtesy USDA )

The Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture, citing the agencies' dual roles with enforcing the Food Safety Modernization Act, have pledged to work together on food oversight.

FDA Commission Scott Gottlieb and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a formal agreement to that effect Jan. 30 at the White House. The agreement calls for the agencies to “enhance their collaboration and cooperation” on produce safety, and follows the FDA’s Jan. 18 proposal to update recall processes, giving food company’s specific guidelines while addressing concerns public warnings on recalls are too late or contain not enough information.

Those recall guidelines are in the public comment period until March 20 on the Federal Register website. (See related story.)

The USDA and FDA are partnering on the implementation of produce safety measures and biotechnology efforts, according to a news release on the Jan. 30 agreement.

“Over the last several months, (Secretary Perdue) and I have worked closely and identified several areas where we can strengthen our collaboration to make our processes more efficient, predictable, and potentially lower cost to industry; while also strengthening our efforts to ensure food safety,” Gottlieb said in the release.

Perdue said the USDA has the expertise to support FDA’s farm-related activities.

The agreement calls for streamlining regulatory responsibilities, and could lead to fewer establishments subjected to USDA and FDA regulatory requirements. The release gives an example of a soup company that produces chicken noodle and tomato soups. The agreement allows the agencies to identify ways to reduce “inspection inefficiencies,” freeing government resources.

The two agencies will also work on developing regulatory approaches to biotechnology, according to the release, as they work on commitments in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products.



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