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James “Jim” Jones to Head FDA Food Division, Industry Associations Respond

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it has selected James “Jim” Jones, FDAa 30-year veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to direct its food division as part of a broader reorganization, the agency said.

The FDA in January said it would reorganize its food program after being criticized for its slow response to issues at an infant formula plant that resulted in an outbreak of illness and a national formula shortage.

The reorganization also includes relocating the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP) and a new model for the Office for Regulatory Affairs (ORA). Jones will begin his role at FDA on Sept. 24, reporting directly to FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD.

Jones was a member of a panel convened by the Reagan-Udall Foundation, an organization funded in part by the FDA, that conducted an evaluation of the regulator’s response to the formula crisis and recommended structural changes to its food program.

“Our proposed reorganization is the largest undertaking of its kind in recent history for our agency,” said Califf in a statement. “I’m confident that under Jim’s leadership, we will build a stronger organization.”

Association Responses
Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), responded to the appointment, stating, “AHPA welcomes the selection of Jim Jones as Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. We look forward to working with him as part of our ongoing engagement with FDA and will communicate to him early in his tenure our continuing concern about the potential impacts of the proposed placement of ODSP under a larger office on the regulation of dietary supplements.”

The Natural Products Association (NPA) response was more disapproving, calling the announcement of Jones’ selection “troubling.” “For more than 30 years, Mr. Jones has held various positions in the EPA, while Mr. Jones is a known commodity in Washington D.C., it is unclear how his experience will benefit the foods program, there seems to be a knowledge gap when it comes to foods,” said Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of the NPA.

“At a time when the FDA foods program has a clear accountability gap with Congress, industry, and Americans, as demonstrated by the Reagan-Udall Report, in which Mr. Jones was a panelist, how will a lack of technical understanding for the industries FDA regulates fill that gap?” Fabricant added. “FDA needs to lay out constructive plans to address these deficiencies sooner rather than later. While the reorganization is a significant undertaking, it is not going to have a positive outcome if the new commissioner for foods doesn’t engage immediately with groups like the NPA to understand the history and specific concerns.”

For more information, visit www.fda.gov.

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