The Biden administration has made a number of political and economic missteps - e.g. an Inflation Reduction Act that has nothing to do with inflation and won't reduce it - but its science and health gaffes get less press.

When Scott Gottlieb, MD, was in charge, FDA was on the road to becoming more nimble, but it took the COVID-19 pandemic, and watching other agencies like the CDC run in circles and demonstrate true incompetence, for FDA to really understand they are not protecting anyone by being bureaucratic roadblocks. No one is safer if a company needs 18 months and a room full of lawyers just to get permission to change the color of a font on a drug label, but that was what FDA had become.

The agency got better and during COVID-19 they went from strength to strength but tone and goals are set by political appointees, not career scientists and employees, so a new president meant new people in charge. And it wasn't long before the old ways, obstructionism and sticking it to those evil corporations that 44 percent of Americans think exist, led to disaster with infant formula. A company had tainted formula and pulled the product, of course. But then the Biden administration issued a permanent ban. Maybe they had read too many breezy narratives about how "breast is best" and that everyone did it, because they were unprepared for the problems they created. 

A whole lot of infants were suddenly in jeopardy and we couldn't import perfectly fine formula from companies wanting to sell it in Europe because it was not profitable to go through a decade of FDA red tape and change all their labels just to compete against entrenched American competitors. Formula made by companies in Europe met every safety standard the US has, but they had not done the paperwork and written the checks.

A year later, FDA has responded by ... creating a new agency. This Human Foods Program will report to FDA but add another layer of management to a process that requires state government employees anyway. Instead of noting how this will solve FDA's incompetence, the Commissioner blames "climate change, supply chain disruption and international strife" and not that they are creating expensive barriers to entry for new companies and even impossible regulatory standards for some existing weedkillers because they are not allowed to ban products that cannot be shown harmful. 

Also worrisome is this part of the new mandate; "to help American consumers make more informed food choices, including by working with industry to offer healthier, more nutritious food products."

The last thing new mothers with infants need is a government-funded Wellness Coach.

We need safe food, we need affordable food we need safety standards that are evidence-based, not epidemiology and black box regulation as part of an agenda by political insiders. We certainly do not need another ridiculous aspirational Food Pyramid that is such a Frankenstein monster of consensus and compromise that only 2% of people can follow it. The Obama administration tried pushing vegetarian food on kids and it went into the garbage. Poor children whose healthiest meal of the day may have been a school lunch were instead handed government vegan food and told to love "organic."

There may be no reason to worry that this will do to food what government has done to the economy. This is just an announcement and agencies do have to follow the tone set by the top but before it does actual work it may end up being more useful than the announcement sounds. Only dietitians who hope to be on an "expert" panel can consider this a good idea right now, but with a new administration in 2024 the rudder may change to being more proactive about keeping safe food on shelves - not reorganizations after problems occur and feeling like they did valuable work.