FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., today announced the formation of an internal FDA task force that will develop scientific guidance for establishing standards for qualified health claims in foods. The FDA Task Force on Consumer Health Information for Better Nutrition is a key element of an initiative the agency announced last month to make available to consumers more and better information about the health benefits of food and dietary supplements.
The Task force's Chair will be FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Lester M. Crawford, and the Vice Chair will be Joseph A. Levitt, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Other members will include:
Norris Alderson, Ph.D.
Associate Commissioner for Science, FDA
William Allaban, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, National Center for Toxicological Research, FDA
Van Hubbard, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Nutrition Research Coordination,
National Institutes of Health
William K. Hubbard
Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, FDA
L. Robert Lake, Esq.
Director of Regulations and Policy, CFSAN
Michael M. Landa, Esq.
Deputy Chief Counsel, FDA
Joanne Lupton, Ph.D.
Visiting Scientist, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, CFSAN (Regents Professor and William W. Allen Endowed Chair in Human Nutrition, Texas A&M)
Alan M. Rulis, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Food Additive Safety, CFSAN
Christine L. Taylor, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, CFSAN
Kathleen Ellwood, Ph.D.,
Associate Director for Nutrition Science and Policy, CFSAN (alternate)
Elizabeth A. Yetley, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist for Nutrition, CFSAN
Executive Secretariat - Peter A. Salsbury
Science Policy Analyst, Office of the Center Director, CFSAN
In addition, the Task Force will rely on expertise from other government agencies, consulting with other government experts in the fields of health information and nutrition, as appropriate.
"The work of the Consumer Information Task Force is a critical step toward getting better nutrition and health information to the American people as quickly as possible," said Commissioner McClellan. "The task force includes senior FDA managers and the agency's top experts in this field. Their work will be instrumental in providing industry and the public a clear understanding of the types of new health information that will be available regarding foods and dietary supplements."
Within the next six months, the task force will:
Report on how the agency should apply the "weight of the evidence" standard established under the consumer health information initiative for qualified health claims on conventional foods.
Develop a framework of regulations that will give these principles the force and the effect of law.
Identify procedures for implementing the initiative, as well as determining the organizational staffing needs necessary for the timely review of health claim petitions.
Develop a consumer studies research agenda designed to best present scientifically based information to consumers in a truthful and non-misleading way, and to identify the kinds of information known to be misleading to consumers.
The task force will hold monthly meetings starting in February 2003, and will identify mechanisms to obtain additional public input.