July 20, 2009, 5:56 PM ET

FDA Food Safety Chief Heads to Consulting Firm

Source of Article:  http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/07/20/fda-food-safety-chief-heads-to-consulting-firm/

Jane Zhang reports on food safety.

David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration’s associate commissioner for foods, is leaving to join a new consulting firm, headed by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

“I wanted to let you know that Friday, July 31st will be my final day of service at the FDA,” Acheson said in an email to FDA employees. “I have accepted a position with Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm, who are starting a new focus on food and import safety and have asked me to head the new activity.”

The firm, based in Salt Lake City, where Leavitt served as governor, already has hired a number of former HHS officials, including Medicaid chief Dennis Smith. Acheson said in an interview he will remain in Washington and will use his “strong public-health perspective” to help food companies address food safety issues.

Acheson, an internist and an expert on infectious diseases, had become the FDA’s face on food safety in recent years, often acting as the agency’s chief spokesman on outbreaks that ranged from pet food to spinach to peanut butter and hot peppers.

The Obama administration, eager to improve the FDA’s record on food safety, recently picked a new pointman for food safety, Mike Taylor. Taylor had been at the FDA in the early 1990s, and is now senior adviser to Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. A White House group also recommended establishing a deputy commissioner’s position on food safety.



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