New Food Safety Position Created at FDA

May 2, 2007

David Acheson has been named FDA’s assistant commissioner for food protection by Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach. Acheson has been the chief medical officer and director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Acheson will coordinate food safety and defense initiatives with FDA units and will be the liaison to the Department of Human Services and other federal agencies for inter-agency food safety programs.

One of his first tasks will be to develop a strategy for food safety for the entire agency that can serve as a framework for guiding future programs.

The appointment of Acheson is part of von Eschenbach’s work to bring FDA to the 21st century, he told attendees at United FreshTech April 25-28 in Palm Springs, Calif.

His goal is for FDA to be science-based and science-led, working hand in hand with the food industry to develop food safety programs from seed to consumer.

“FDA of the future will think of itself as fully engaged across the full life cycle,” von Eschenbach said.

The agency also is working to develop stronger relationships with the industries it regulates and invest in an information technology infrastructure that can quickly identify and isolate a problem when it occurs.

Von Eschenbach told FreshTech attendees that he favored guidelines over regulations because they are “dynamic and fluid and able to adjust to the rapidly changing world around us.” Regulations are cumbersome and slow and, in his opinion, inefficient.

As consumers demand more food safety from growers, processors and the federal government, FDA is reorganizing to coordinate its efforts, he said. The agency is increasing the number of inspectors and shuffling labs into centers for multiple expertise, and is asking the industry to work with the agency to adapt to the changing environment.