50 People at FDA Oversee the Entire Cosmetics Industry? Believe it
The FDA has “a total of about 50 full time equivalents to regulate a very large and growing industry,” said Michael Landa, Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA in a statement made during a Senate hearing on the safety of cosmetics a few weeks ago. Landa went on to state that although the cosmetics industry is moving product in the billions of dollars, FDA has little more than a dozen employees that actually work in the trenches of cosmetics regulation…those not out conducting inspections. “It’s a rather small program in light of the size of the industry,” Landa stated at the hearing.
While more staff does not necessarily equate to safer products, one must question how FDA ended up assigning only a handful of people to cosmetics. It may not be that surprising however given that FDA also assigned a whopping 10 people to its field office in China… a country of 1.3 billion people and countless manufacturers and exporters. FDA has always struggled to get things done and these comments and numbers from FDA further reveal both their resource allocation struggle and desire for increased staffing, budget and authority from Congress. As FSMA fully rolls out over the next 2 years we can expect to see FDA plead their case for these increases any chance they can.