USDA’s top food safety officials continued to do a balancing act when it came to who got face time with them during the first quarter of 2012.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service periodically publishes an “Officials’ Calendar of Meetings” for the Under Secretary for Food Safety, the Deputy Under Secretary, Administrators, and Deputy Administrator.
The appointment calendars show who from outside the federal government the officials met with privately, but usually not for some time after they occur. So, far for 2012, the meeting calendars have been released for January, February, and March.
Elisabeth A. Hagen, the under secretary for food safety, and Al Almanza, FSIS’s top administrator, do most of the meetings with outsiders.
Hagen spent a lot of time explaining change during the 1st quarter. Poultry inspection and the addition of six more strains of E coli to FSIS’s list of banned bacteria found Hagen doing one-on-one interviews with a long list of media, including Bloomberg News, CNN, Agri-Talk, Fox 45, NBC, Washington Post, and Food Safety News.
Food safety was listed as the subject of 12 of the 45 meetings with outsiders during the quarter. About one-fourth of those private meetings were with industry representatives. Among the organizations getting face time were: National Meat Association, National Turkey Association, Food Marketing Institute, North American Meat Processors, Wal-Mart, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Cargill, Triumph Foods, Keystone Foods and McDonald’s.
The FSIS also continues to hold separate monthly meetings with both industry and consumer representatives and sometimes attend public events. Hagen participated in a roundtable discussion at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg in January.
The Humane Society of the United States got a meeting with all four top officials on Feb. 21 over horse slaughter, downed calves and pigs, and the Federal Egg Bill. Hagen also met with Canadian trade officials on Feb.24 on “beyond the border” plans.© Food Safety News