Food Safety Czar Interviewed By Boston Globe

David Acheson, who was recently appointed the FDA’s assistant commissioner for food protection, discussed the future of food safety.

He states that increasing the number of inspections will not be a priority, but instead the FDA will focus on prevention of contamination. Acheson also called the FDA a “reactive agency” and says that’s a job the FDA must continue to do. But he also agrees that approach needs change. Prevention needs to be a focus and that’s where he’s like to take the agency.

Acheson seemed lukewarm on wanting the mandatory recall ability. His take on the formation of a single federal food safety agency was that it would be “more likely to create a bigger hole in food safety” in the short term.

Acheson defended the dedication of the FDA staff, and did not comment on the criticisms of the agency.

Excerpt from the Boston Globe article:

Q Critics are tough. One editorial calls food safety laws toothless, FDA staff overworked, and inspection regimens dominated by industry. True?

A I can’t specifically say whether that’s true or not true. There is recognition that there is a need for some change. There are a lot of very dedicated people in the FDA who are doing the best with the resources that they have, and the authorities that they have, to maximally protect public health.

Q Critics make the case for a single food safety agency with recall authority and a mandate to standardize inspections.

A Simply creating a single food safety agency, moving groups of federal employees around under a different organizational structure, frankly, I think is more likely to create a bigger hole in food safety, certainly for sure in the short term. I worry about that.

Q The agency inspects roughly 1 percent of the $60 billion in imported food. How much more does the FDA need for inspectors?

A I do not believe that simply doubling, tripling, increasing by a factor of 10 the number of inspectors is going to solve the problem. One has to build this into a comprehensive preventative strategy, working with industry to help them understand what preventative controls work the best. You then need to potentially verify that they’re doing that. You then need inspectors in the system for the intervention part: to inspect foods, maybe after they’ve been produced, somewhere during their life before they reach retail . . . Looking to prevent the problem from ever arriving on somebody’s dinner plate.

If we are going to move the food safety and security system forward, we are going to need to address this with new resources and, potentially, new authorities. The changes are real. There is a limit to what you can accomplish with the resources that we currently have.

Q Is mandatory recall authority among new powers the FDA seeks?

A It’s on the table as an authority that could be looked at.

(Thanks mike)

16 Responses to “Food Safety Czar Interviewed By Boston Globe”

  1. Mrs. Roberto P. says:

    How do you prevent contamination from countries you have no jurisdiction over? I think they just want us to shut up and go away. Business as usual.

  2. Mrs. Roberto P. says:

    I’ve been reading this site for weeks. What happened? Where did ewveryone go?

  3. mittens says:

    how do you ‘ prevent contamination’ if there are no inspections of food plants and imported food stuffs? this guy is either a brazen smart ass liar and thinks we’re morons or is himself completely stupid.

    is it even possible to have a bigger hole in food saftey particularly with articles from china? prehaps if they focused on food and drug safety which is, by the way, their mandate instead of thinly disguised shilling for free trade with countries with horrendous human rights violations on top of abysmal food saftey standards we’d get somewhere.

    the FDA and the USDA barely have the teeth now to inspect and regulate american manufacturers. that’s the problem, and they allow tire irons, fatal drugs and plastic-god knows what- in animal feed. aren’t those the glaring problems? those knees must be smarting from all the time this fool has kneeling in front of big business calming their fears he might try to suggest mandating recalls of death causing food stuffs. shameless whore.

  4. Katie says:

    I would like to know why he doesn’t want the ability to issue a mandatory recall? And his belief that the FDA should be reactionary rather than preventive and proactive, is crazy. It is time for the FDA and USDA to have some guts like the EU and Japan and stand up for the American people. I still can’t get over what Japan said: they’ll see what happens to America’s children in 10 years before they eat GMO crops. Why can’t our government officials wise up? Oh, I know, because our officials take big money from agribusiness and don’t want that money drying up.


  5. pat says:

    typical political claptrap. note the statement “potentially verify”. a political phrase if ever i saw it. he’ll build all fda policy around risk assessment. we’ve all seen how effective that method is. this man appears to be handpicked to further the agribusiness agenda, no surprise really. with him at the helm, we can expect more and more poisonings of our pets and ourselves while fda sits around assessing risk and potentially verifying.

  6. Krista says:

    Everything he said was politically correct BS. Which amounts to speaking in a way that dances around the questions and preseves his stance of not commiting to anything…

  7. Krista says:

    Reminder everyone -

    The radio interview with FDA’s Dr. Sundlof is on tonight… Let’s see how he answers some questions… Itchmo willl be on too.. Don’t forget to tune in for live listening!!!

  8. Kathy says:

    Same ol’…….

  9. petslave says:

    I posted this on one of the forums earlier, don’t know if it’s ok to cross post, but wanted to get it out there:

    A friend was at one of our small local petshops & overheard two young college student workers talking in the back, complaining about having to take a bunch of food off the shelf, pack it up & send it back to the mfr. He’s not all that concerned about the recall so didn’t pay exact attention to words (I would have had my head stuck through the door)–I asked if they said ‘recall’ & he said no, but from what they did say, it sounded like that’s why they were doing it. I asked what was the timeline, & he said it sounded like they had just packed it up a few days ago & were still getting it ready to ship.

    So maybe the silent recall IS going on right now right under our noses. That store carries the ‘good’ brands we’ve all been advocating here, plus a few that have had recalls & one of the brands that tested positive for acetaminaphen.

    I guess there is no way we can get knowledge of these hidden activities if that’s what they actually are, they’ve found a way around public knowledge.

  10. Itchmo: News, humor and product reviews for cats, dogs and pet owners. » Recall Update: Monday says:

    […] FDA’s Food Safety Czar offers a few clues into the future of the FDA. […]

  11. mittens says:


    a few week ago a was at the local major supermarket that has nothing but the major brands. it wasn’t a busy day-all the shelves seemed full and all the pet foods shelves were carefully ‘ faced’ off and well stocked but the space they allot to those plastic wrapped 4 packs of canned 9 lives-a large amount of shelf-age all mid level , the prime supermarket space, in fact, more and better space than they give to canned friskies- was almost completely empty. and they were not on sale. i go to this place every week and pay attention to the pet foods in particular now whether i buy or not.

    at the time i thought it was pretty weird-i wondered if there”d been a recall i was unaware of( impossible due to itchmo!)-it was that noticeable in a fully packed pet food isle. now with your post-i wonder. i am so thankful i dropped all the grain foods and switched my girls out. it makes me furious they’re allowed to do this-FDA are you listening!!! people WANT you to inspect,close and fine plants that produce harmful food. hopefully someone will sue you as an accessory to the crimes-an enabler with a profound far reaching conflict of interest that needs to be eradicated not spun.

  12. petslave says:

    That one also sounds suspicous–we should start a thread in the forums & see if anyone else has noticed these kinds of things. It may be the only way we have left to know that something is still going on.

    I suspect it’s all being done under cover now & we’ve seen the last of the official public recalls, unless it’s something really big that can’t be covered up. They found a way around us.

  13. Captn' Carl says:

    Atchison: Food Safety Czar, or lukewarm, milquetoast (on the payroll of pet food manufacturers) insider saboteur just waiting to pull pre-positioned strings to cause the collapse of this tragedy without ” as shot being fired”?

    This wouldn’t be the first time we were “sold down the river” by a trusted member of government now would it?

  14. Captn' Carl says:

    Pardon me, I misspelled the latest shill’s name. It should be Acheson.
    I apologize to anyone whom it may concern.

  15. Captn' Carl says:

    Another faux pas? I forgot to put a question mark after the supposition in parenthesis about “on the payroll of pet food manufacturers”. Make of it what you will.

  16. lost for words says:

    quoting petslave:

    I suspect it’s all being done under cover now & we’ve seen the last of the official public recalls, unless it’s something really big that can’t be covered up. They found a way around us.
    I think this is exactly what is happening. If you have visited either FDA or USDA site lately. Very little traffic on their public notification areas. They have simply pulled the plug on public information. FDA Recall last entry 6/19/07. USDA site had one new announcement today but the recent activity has been non-controversial topics. I do think any recalls have been in-house and are not being publicized. Maybe the FDA doesn’t know about them. Why should they. Don’t ask, Don’t tell seems to work for the Army maybe it will work for the FDA?

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