In response to an announcement that the Food and Drug Administration will reorganize and rename its Office of Premarket Approval -- now named the Office of Food Additive Safety (OFAS) -- Dr. Rhona Applebaum, Executive Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for the National Food Processors Association, made the following comments:

"NFPA is strongly supportive of FDA's stated purpose in reorganizing the Office of Food Additive Safety, which is 'to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of FDA reviews of each type of application.' The reorganization represents common-sense streamlining, basing the Office's functions on the actual applications they receive. It brings an outdated system into the present and promises to help improve the management of -- and thereby the speed of review for -- new products coming onto the marketplace.

"We believe that increased operational efficiency within OFAS -- whether for food additive petitions, for notifications of Food Contact Substances, for GRAS notifications, or for biotechnology consultations -- clearly is in the best interests not only of FDA and the food industry, but of consumers as well. However, it will be incumbent upon FDA to assist in educating consumers as to what is and what is not a 'food additive,' since its regulatory definition has the potential to confuse the public.

"NFPA has long urged that the food additive review process be reformed, so that food additive reviews are done in a timely and efficient manner. NFPA fought for -- and won -- an additional $10 million this Fiscal Year to streamline the additive review process and enhance staffing levels. This reorganization is consistent with what Congress sought when it appropriated these new monies for FDA.

"The food industry applauds FDA's efforts to improve the accountability, transparency, priority setting and responsiveness of Office of Food Additive Safety. We look forward to working with FDA to provide industry input into this reorganization, as well as working with the Agency on consumer education on these issues."

NFPA is the voice of the $460 billion food processing industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, nutrition, technical and regulatory matters and consumer affairs. For further information or to arrange an interview with an NFPA spokesperson on this subject, call Timothy Willard, NFPA's Vice President of Communications, at 202-637-8060, or visit NFPA's Website at http://www.nfpa-food.org.