On this Christmas morning, we are pleased to announce that there are children who were Nice to food safety this year. We know they are among those who found presents under their tree and their stockings filled with goodies. Let’s begin looking at who they are:
Michael R. Taylor, the deputy commissioner of foods at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tops our list. The work of his team at the Office of Foods during the past four years has the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) ready for lift-off, with the promise of moving from responding to contamination to preventing it.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, who chairs the agriculture subcommittee of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, the ranking member, are on our Nice list for present day contribution to making the FSMA work. They made sure the $104.5 million in new money the FDA needs to get the job done was included in the just passed Omnibus spending bill.
Prof. James Marsden, the Kansas State University Regents Distinguished Professor of Food Safety, also makes the Nice list for thinking about the future. He envisioned a day soon when FDA and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will be singing from the same hymnal.
In thinking about the future, Marsden envisions USDA/FSIS adopting a “similar philosophy” soon to the comprehensive, but more flexible approach that Taylor has come up with for FSMA. Marsden says Taylor knows the “shortfalls” of the original “true HACCP” model used today by USDA/FSIS because he built that system too. Taylor headed up food safety for USDA during the Clinton Administration.
Judge B. Lynn Winmill is the chief of the U.S. District Court for Idaho and he makes the Nice list for becoming the first federal jurist to declare state law prohibiting taking pictures on private property with the permission of the owner as being unconstitutional. The bill he struck down, the Idaho Ag-gag law, was aimed at animal activists, but was troubling to journalists and press photographers as well.
Idaho has appealed Judge Winmill’s ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Randy Napier and Jeff Almer are two men who might never have met until poisoned peanut butter from the Peanut Corporation of America not been responsible for the deaths of their mothers. Randy, Jeff, and other victims and survivors of foodbornee illnesses who’ve traveled to out-of-the-way places like Albany, GA to testify on behalf of outbreak victims have been doing really important work. About a half dozen federal district courts have heard such testimony and it prevents anyone involved from depicting food illness cases as just being about stomach aches or a flu bug. It is not always easy, especially when defendant families are hostile, but its important. Randy, Jeff, and all the others who performed this important service are on our Nice list.
Kaayla Daniel is a nutritionist who was on the Board of Directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which has long claimed fermented cod liver oil as a “superfood.” Daniel became suspicious of the quality of the fermented cod liver oil of a vendor especially closed to WAPF. She knew she would be tossed from the board if she went public with her report. But she went ahead with “speaking truth to power.” She was kicked off the WAPF, and the controversy that followed split nutrition/health movement Price represents. Hers was a “profile in courage” that earns her a place on the Nice list.
David Gumpert, author of the book “The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle over Food Rights” who blogs under The Complete Patient, covered the controversy created by the Daniel report as a straight news story to the displeasure of the WAPF. Like Daniel, Gumpert had a decision to make. He choose being journalist over being an activist, which gets him on our Nice List. And there is now a new Paleo Primal Price Foundation that is up and running as new competition to the WAPF.
Al Almanza and Brian Ronholm are Deputy Under Secretaries for Food Safety. We like to call them the Odd Couple. We keep calling for the President to appoint a new Under Secretary for Food Safety who can be confirmed by the Senate. But when you just consider results, the Almanza-Ronholm leadership is putting in the performance that earns them both a place on our Nice list. There’s only been one multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin E coli strain in the last five years. Back in the day, these were a weekly occurrence. There’s only been one recall involving E. coli in meat in 2015. Almanza and Ronholm have other accomplishments as the new poultry rule. They are both accessible and open to meeting most all comers. It may be a unique management structure with Almanza still acting administrator of the agency’s 10,000 employees, and Ronholm thinking about Congressional-level policy. But FSIS is working,
© Food Safety News