Interesting names emerge as possible FSIS under secretary


By Janie Gabbett on 1/27/2009


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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday he will move quickly to name a new head of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Consequently, in the grand tradition of Washington, names are swirling some of which might make your head spin.

In its "Federal Eye" blog, said the two front runners for USDA's under secretary of agriculture for food safety are former FSIS Administrator Barbara Masters and Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Naming a USDA food safety czar from a consumer advocacy organization like the Center for Science in the Public Interest would certainly turn some heads in the meat industry.

"I think it is safe to say there would be concerns (if Smith-Dewaal was named)," a meat industry insider who asked not to be named told

Smith DeWaal is a vocal supporter of food safety reform, focusing mainly on the Food and Drug Administration. She wrote last week in the McClatchy-Tribune that "FDA's inability to handle its food-safety mission should be addressed early," and that "Congress should continue to increase the budget for food-safety programs to ensure manufacturing facilities are inspected frequently."

Another name posted at the bottom of the blog in the "names also mentioned" category is Seattle-based attorney Bill Marler, who has specialized in representing food-borne illness victims against food processing companies.

Also named were Mike Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, and Mike Taylor, a Food and Drug Administration veteran and currently a research professor at George Washington University. Taylor was FSIS Administrator in the 1990s when E. coli O157:H7 was first classified as an adulterant in ground beef.


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