Consumer Reports, along with a coalition of consumer organizations, industry, and state and local government officials, has written a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to expand the planned external review of its food safety program to include FDA’s Center of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). At present, FDA does not plan to subject CVM to evaluation under the external review, which was ordered by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, Ph.D., and will assess the Office of Food Response and Policy (OFPR), the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), and relevant parts of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).

The letter argues that “every element” of CVM’s program relates to the food system and food safety, including the drug approval program for food animals, which aims to minimize the public health risk posed by drugs used in animal feed and drug residues found in human food. The letter cites the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which mandated prevention-oriented food safety standards for both human and animal food and recognized both as components of the food program at FDA.

Also included in the letter was a reiteration of the coalition’s request for FDA to appoint a food safety expert as Deputy Commissioner to lead a unified foods program. The coalition originally urged Dr. Califf to take action in unifying its foods programs in an April 2022 letter.