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FDA food safety chief resigns

Stephen Sudlof’s departure as head of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition isn’t likely to change the division’s focus, says an industry official.

But Sudlof will be missed.

“We’re certainly sad to see (Sudlof) go,” said Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Products Association. “We didn’t always see eye to eye on everything, but he has so much integrity and intelligence. He was great to work with.”

A veterinarian and research scientist with a background in toxicology, Sudlof was named director of CFSAN in January 2008, after serving 14 years as the FDA’s director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Sudlof is leaving to accept a two-year assignment with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine that will include heading a regulatory science training program. He will continue to be a senior adviser to CFSAN.

CFSAN has been faced with increases in food-borne illnesses, including melamine-contaminated milk in China and salmonella in peanuts and produce in the U.S. in the past few years. The problems prompted Congress to propose food safety legislation that would strengthen the FDA’s authority to control outbreaks.

Fabricant praised Sudlof’s leadership and said his departure “shouldn’t mean we’ll be losing speed on that front.”

Michael Landa, deputy director of regulatory affairs at CFSAN, has been named the agency’s acting director.

Fabricant said the NPA has worked with Landa for many years. “I don’t think there’s going to be any loss in service,” Fabricant said.

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