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Amid infant formula disaster, Juul fiasco, FDA seeks outside review

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Amid infant formula disaster, Juul fiasco, FDA seeks outside review

shake-up —

The review will provide initial recommendations within 60 days, Califf said.


Robert Califf, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during the COVID Federal Response Hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Robert Califf, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speaks during the COVID Federal Response Hearing on Capitol Hill on June 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.

The Food and Drug Administration has commissioned an external review of its food and tobacco programs in the wake of high-profile debacles—including bungled oversight of e-cigarettes, most notably of Juul products, and a dire nationwide shortage of infant and specialty formulas that left many parents scrambling and some babies in the hospital.

“The agency has confronted a series of challenges that have tested our regulatory frameworks and stressed the agency’s operations, prompting me to take a closer look at how we do business,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement Tuesday.

Califf commissioned The Reagan-Udall Foundation, which will work with unnamed outside experts, to conduct evaluations of the agency’s Human Foods Program and the Center for Tobacco Products. The foundation is a private nonprofit tasked by Congress to support and advise the FDA. The foundation’s evaluation will scrutinize the two FDA programs’ “processes and procedures, resourcing, and organizational structure,” and the foundation will report initial findings to the agency within 60 days, Califf said.

The FDA has faced intense criticism on various fronts for various problems, which Califf largely inherited. Though he had briefly held the position of FDA Commissioner during the Obama era, Califf only rejoined the agency in the role in February 2022. In the five months since then, he has frequently defended the agency’s work but admitted that there is much room for improvement.

“We have the safest food in the world,” Califf said in a Congressional hearing Wednesday. “Every expert I’ve talked with—the CDC monitors this carefully—said that our food is as safe as it’s ever been. …That doesn’t mean it can’t be a lot better and that there aren’t major problems. So, you know, that’s why we’re doing this top-down review and plan to make significant changes.”

Formula shortage

In announcing the review, Califf noted that the agency’s food oversight “has been stressed by the increasing diversity and complexity of the nation’s food systems and supply chain.” He also acknowledged that “fundamental questions about the structure, function, funding, and leadership need to be addressed,” as do the agency’s “inspectional activities.”

In a previous Congressional hearing focused on the infant formula shortage, Califf had struggled to clearly explain the leadership structure of the food program or the chain of command moving up from regional personnel who inspect commercial plants.

Additionally, lawmakers have slammed the agency for being slow to respond to a whistleblower’s complaint filed last year about serious problems at one of the largest formula plants in the US—Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan plant. When the FDA finally investigated the plant earlier this year, inspectors discovered deadly bacteria that had already been linked to infant illnesses and a death. Amid reports of a second linked infant death, the plant closed in February, which largely spurred the nationwide shortage. The closure subsequently sent federal officials scrambling to muster supplies, airlift millions of containers from abroad, and issue guidance to parents facing empty shelves.

Vaping struggles

Meanwhile, the agency has also struggled to regulate the mushrooming vaping industry, including synthetic nicotine and cannabis products. The FDA recently reported that it is trying to review around a million applications for non-tobacco nicotine products.

Earlier this month, the FDA made an embarrassing backpedal in its decision to force e-cigarette maker Juul off the US market. The agency initially denied the vaping giant’s request for marketing authorization in late June. But a federal court quickly blocked the denial, leaving Juul products on the market, at least temporarily. Then, the FDA suspended the denial, saying that “there are scientific issues unique to the Juul application that warrant additional review.”

The FDA has made progress in regulating tobacco products, Califf said, “but even greater challenges lie ahead as we determine how the agency will navigate complex policy issues and determine enforcement activities for an increasing number of novel products that could potentially have significant consequences for public health.”

Califf acknowledged that it may take time to implement the significant structural changes that may come out of the outside evaluation. “But,” he said, “I am committed to addressing them and communicating them to the public in a timely manner.”

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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