The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation blasted the Food and Drug Administration Monday for overreaching on issues that range from e-cigarettes to almond milk.
The think tank released a report that represents the latest gripe anti-regulatory conservatives have with the agency.
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb generally has earned plaudits from President Trump and conservatives, most notably for record-level approvals of generic drugs. But several of his moves have drawn the ire of conservatives and are detailed in the report.
Chief among Gottlieb's infractions is the FDA’s decision in July to consider strengthening enforcement of the definition of milk to restrict its use for plant-based products like almond, coconut, or soy milk. Gottlieb said the goal was to ease confusion for consumers.
“An almond doesn’t lactate,” Gottlieb said at a Politico event in July.
But Heritage blasted the decision.
“Consumers know that almond milk doesn’t come from cows,” the report said. "They are not confused and unable to distinguish between dairy products and plant-based products.”
Heritage also chided the FDA for continuing to implement regulations approved by the Obama administration. Chief among those regulations is a rule under Obamacare that required large restaurant chains to put calorie information on menus.
FDA is required under Obamacare to issue a rule on the menu labeling, but Heritage wanted the agency to pull the rule the Obama administration released and replace it with a version that would properly “interpret the law.”
Several conservative and e-cigarette advocacy groups have lashed out at the FDA for its crackdown on e-cigarettes. Gottlieb has said he is considering banning sales of e-cigarettes in convenience stores, and the agency has warned more than 1,000 retailers for sales to minors in an attempt to curb skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes.
Heritage also targeted the crackdown in the report, as well as an FDA effort to explore reducing nicotine levels in traditional cigarettes.
“Such a move would be, for all practical purposes, a ban on cigarettes,” the report said. “The government would be trying to force smokers to stop smoking cigarettes, even if they do not want to.”
The report concludes by calling for the agency to join the rest of the Trump administration in reducing “federal overreach and respect the rule of law.”
Heritage also wants Congress to pass legislation to ensure FDA interprets the law as intended.
The FDA did not immediately return a request for comment.