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, WashingtonPost.com 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 Meatingplace.com.
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
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 GeorgeWashingtonUniversity.
FSIS Administrator in the 1990s when E. coli O157:H7 was first classified as
an adulterant in ground beef.