updated 8/17/2007 7:10:42 PM ET 2007-08-17T23:10:42

The Food and Drug Administration canceled plans Friday to close more than half its field laboratories .

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The proposed closures, part of a reorganization of the agency’s field operations, previously had been suspended to await recommendations from a presidential panel about how to better guarantee the safety of imported food and other products.

Congress has been investigating the plan, including whether it would give to private companies some food safety work now performed by government employees. Lawmakers also had introduced legislation to block the closures.

In a “Dear Colleagues” e-mail sent Friday, FDA regulatory affairs chief Margaret Glavin said the reorganization plan would be canceled, in part to provide a “fresh look” at the challenges facing her office and its plans for addressing them.

The FDA originally said it sought to consolidate its lab network to modernize its food safety efforts. The proposal was met with protests from lawmakers, lab employees who testified before Congress and the union that represents much of the FDA work force.

Michigan Democratic Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak applauded the cancellation, saying the closures would have jeopardized public health.

FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said in an e-mail that Friday’s announcement left open the possibility of future changes.

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