Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond
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Give Mike Taylor a chance

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(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Mike Taylor is my hero, and the hero of many others also. And yet there are those who probably cringed when it was announced that he was coming back to DC politics as the Senior Advisor to the Commissioner at the FDA.


I know Mike's name was tossed around in many circles as the next Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA. Obviously this announcement confirms what we have all been hearing---that he was not going to get to sit in the vacant Undersecretary's chair again any time soon. And that just might be too bad, from my humble, non-partisan view point. I would like to hear why he was not named. Who influenced who, and why?


When I say Mr. Taylor is my  hero, it is because of a very short speech he made at an AMI meeting. At this meeting, he basically caught most of the red meat world totally off guard when he announced that he was declaring E coli 0157:H7 an adulterant in ground beef. It was a very  brave step forward for an Administrator of FSIS who was also serving as the Interim Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA. In fact, he probably negated any chances he had of being presidentially nominated and Senate confirmed to the position of Undersecretary, then or now.


When I served as the Undersecretary, I was well advised by certain consumer advocates that I should meet with Mike Taylor sooner than later--and I did. It started a very frank but collegial relationship that I hope will continue with his new responsibilities. The last year I was in DC, I sat on many panels for frank, open-ended discussions regarding food safety that almost always included Mike Taylor, and often included Caroline Smith Dewaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Mike Robach from Cargill. We disagreed on many aspects of how to improve food safety. Specifically, Mike wants a single food safety agency, located anywhere but at the USDA. I disagree on both counts. So we would move on to other areas that we might be able to collaborate on and move forward to improve the safety of the US food supply.


I hope his detractors will recognize this man's ability to respectfully agree to disagree on one area, but work on other areas where compromise can be reached. He has created change before, and he is in  a position to do it again. Probably better to be with him than against him. Or at the very least, meet with him to try and find compromise that works for all.


I have great hopes for this appointment, I hope you do too.

7/21/2009 3:47 PM 


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