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  1. Regulatory News, Stories, and Features

Public Service Milestones and Intentions for the Future

By: Caleb Michaud, PMP, Acting Director, Office of Communications and Project Management

Dear Readers, it’s my great pleasure, on this special occasion, to highlight the hard work of our FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs public communications professionals and servants. 

Acting Office Director Caleb Michaud, PMP

These staff, like the dedicated education specialists and consumer consultants who came before them, remain committed to promoting public health—just as they did 90 years ago when a limited food and drug law left Americans confused and fearful about which foods were safe to eat, and which drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics were safe to use.

In those early days, as you can read about in our feature story, FDA educators, impassioned to make a difference, went directly to the public to warn Americans about falsely advertised food products, and even worse, the devastating consequences of using unregulated “cures” and cosmetics that caused unthinkable injury and illness—even death. 

Once broader protections were passed as part of the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the agency’s outreach specialists—mostly women—shifted their focus to less dramatic, but still critical, issues, like how to properly handle meats and poultry in the kitchen to guard against foodborne illness. They also cautioned mothers about preventing accidental poisonings at home, and how to be wary of the “fakes and swindles,” who preyed upon unwitting and sometimes desperate consumers and patients.

Today’s public affairs specialists still meet and talk directly with Americans at fairs, schools, conferences, and numerous other venues and events. Given the current digital landscape, they also communicate with the public through media engagement, email, and social media. They encourage consumers to know the very latest when it comes to food, drug, and cosmetic recalls, by subscribing to regular emails, and staying tuned to recent actions taken by our fellow FDA criminal investigators, who work diligently behind-the-scenes removing bad actors and harmful products from commerce.

For over 90 years, our FDA educators and public outreach specialists have served this nation, undoubtedly helping to save lives, and advance, bit by bit, the health of all Americans--including, now more than ever, voices historically left out and unheard. 

Our Public Affairs Branch—currently a team of 18 public affairs specialists, located across the country, including Puerto Rico—is now in its 70th year of existence. We mark this anniversary with pride, but also in deep reflection of our work ahead, in the decades, and even the immediate months, to come. 

Disinformation and misinformation are not necessarily new challenges. Skepticism, frustration, and the exchange of falsehoods all have played a part in the historic public health discourse of this country. Yet, we fully recognize the power these forces have, particularly the health risks and potentially devastating consequences for the most vulnerable among us. 

Please be assured that we are here, finding ways to adapt our messages to the times, crafting strategies for breaking down barriers, and, above all, committed to providing you and your family with timely, useful information that is scientifically grounded, clear and understandable, and respectful to you, your identity, and community.

Check this listing to get in touch with your area public affairs or health communications specialist. 

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