This week, Food Safety News is acknowledging leaders who help keep our food supply safe. Today, we celebrate leaders at government agencies. Yesterday, we celebrated educators. In the days ahead we’ll celebrate leaders in non-government organizations, the food industry, consumer groups and the news media. Of course, no list is ever complete so if you think we’ve forgotten someone, please leave us a note in the comments.
The list of current and former government employees involved in keeping our food supply safe could go on and on. Here, we’ve named leaders from federal agencies tasked with roles ranging from directing epidemiologic investigations to working with the food industry to implement practices to reduce pathogen-contamination in food products. We’ve also named elected officials who are passionate about food safety issues and state health department teams and employees who are the best of the best at what they do.
David Acheson, MD
Dr. David Acheson is Managing Director for the Leavitt Partners Food and Import Safety Practice. Prior to joining Leavitt Partners, Dr. Acheson served as the Associate Commissioner of Foods for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). In that role, he had agency-wide leadership for all food and feed issues, including health promotion and nutrition.
Casey Barton Behravesh, DVM, DrPH
Casey Barton Behravesh is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Public Health Service and is currently stationed with the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch in the Division of Foodborne,Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at CDC. She works with the Outbreak Response Team to investigate outbreaks of foodborne and waterborne enteric illnesses and to educate consumers about the risks of consuming unpasteurized dairy products.
Jason Bashura, MPH
Jason is a General Health Scientist with the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Food Defense Oversight Team. Jason is the project officer for FREE-B, the Food Related Emergency Exercise toolkit developed to assist stakeholders in assessing existing food emergency response plans, protocols and procedures or to assist in the revision or development of a food emergency response plan.
Alicia Cronquist. RN, MPH
Alicia Cronquist is an epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She and the CDPHE team spearheaded one of the most effective foodborne illness outbreak investigations and trace-back analyses ever, concluding that Colorado-grown cantaloupes were the source of a 2011 Listeria outbreak, one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.
Rosa DeLauro is Congresswoman for Connecticut’s Third District. She serves in the Democratic leadership as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, and is the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. She also serves on the subcommittee responsible for FDA and agriculture, where she oversees drug and food safety.
Dan Engeljohn, PhD
Dan Engeljohn is Dan Engeljohn is Assistant Administrator of the Office of Field Operations at FSIS. In this role, he oversees the risk management activities associated with meat, poultry and processed egg products and oversees strategic planning efforts involving the development of food safety regulations. He also sits on the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods and is an assistant professor of nutrition on the undergraduate faculty at Howard University.
Doug Farquhar, JD
Doug Farquhar directs the Environmental Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He directs the program that performs legislative analysis and outreach on state and federal environmental, health and trade laws; focusing on the delegation and authorization of federal and state laws; and provides legal and technical assistance to state legislators and agency staff on state, federal and international environmental, environmental health and trade policies.
Peter Gerner-Smidt, MD, DMSc
Dr. Peter Gerner-Smidt is the acting chief of the Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch (proposed) at the CDC and chairman of the PulseNet International Steering Committee. His research interests are in molecular epidemiology, including subtyping and identification of foodborne, zoonotic and enteric bacterial pathogens. Before joining the CDC, Dr. Gerner-Smidt joined the CDC in 2004 after serving in many capacities, including as coordinator of PulseNet Europe.
David Goldman, MD
Dr. David Goldman is Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Health Science at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. He is a family practice and preventive medicine/public health physician and a member of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. He has been assigned to FSIS since February 2002.
Patricia Griffin, MD
Dr. Patricia Griffin is Chief of the Foodborne Diseases Epidemiology Section at the CDC, where she oversees the FoodNet and National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System for enteric bacteria (NARMS) Units as well as the Outbreak Response and Surveillance Unit. Her research interests include E. coli, epidemiology and pathogenesis of bacterial enteric diseases, among others.
Elisabeth Hagen, MD
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen is Undersecretary for Food Safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She oversees the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA’s public health regulatory agency that ensures the safety of meat, poultry and egg products. She also chairs the U.S. Codex Steering Committee, which provides guidance to U.S. delegations to the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Tim Jones, MD
Tim Jones is State Epidemiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health, where he directs the Communicable and Environmental Disease services section of the Bureau of Health Services. In this role, he is responsible for the statewide investigation and epidemiologic surveillance for a number of public health programs.
William Keene, PhD
Bill Keene is Senior Epidemiologist at the Oregon Public Health Division. He is one of the nation’s leading state public health epidemiologists and has solved or helped determine the source of many in-state and multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks.
Arthur Liang, MD, MPH
Art Liang is the director of Food Safety Initiative Activity for the Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases at the National Center for Infectious Diseases within the CDC. A physician, he serves on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.
John Marcello is one of six FDA Regional Food Specialists assigned to the 9 state/2 territory Pacific Region. In this role, he provides technical assistance to regulatory and industry food safety professionals, trains and standardizes regulatory personnel and provides consultation on nationally-recognized standards for state, local and tribal retail food protection programs.
CAPT Charles Otto, III, RS
Captain Otto is currently with CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch as Team Leader of Training and Education – Primary EH Lead on CDC’s Healthy Swimming Collaboration. In this role, his duties include research, outbreak investigation, training and publication on aquatic health activities.
Richard Raymond, MD
Dr. Richard Raymond, a food safety and public health consultant, is the former Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before joining FSIS, Dr. Raymond served as Chief Medical Officer for the State of Nebraska and had a longtime family medical practice. He is an editor for two food safety blogs, Meatingplace.com and Feedstuffs Foodlink, and is a regular contributor to Food Safety News.
Donald Sharp, MD
Dr. Don Sharp is Associate Director for the Food Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He currently heavily involved in CIFOR (the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response) and in providing training to local, state and foreign health departments on foodborne disease outbreak response.
Louise Slaughter, MPH
Louise Slaughter is Congresswoman for New York’s 25th District. She is a longtime advocate of reducing the use of antibiotics in agriculture and has introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which would ban the routine, nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, several times since first taking office. She holds a Master’s Degree in public health and is the only microbiologist in Congress.
Kirk Smith, DVM, PhD
Kirk Smith is Supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Health Foodborne, Vectorborne and Zoonotic Diseases Unit. He leads “Team Diarrhea,” a nationally-renowned outbreak investigation system, in surveillance and investigation of infectious disease outbreaks—particularly those diseases acquired through the consumption of agricultural or animal products.
Robert V. Tauxe, MD, MPH
Robert Tauxe is Deputy Director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, NCEZID at the CDC. In this role, he oversees the division charged with preventing and controlling foodborne, waterborne and fungal infections as well as monitoring the frequency of outbreaks, investigating outbreaks and developing strategies to reduce disease, disability and deaths that these infections cause.
Michael Taylor, JD
Michael Taylor is Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Mr. Taylor leads FDA efforts to develop and carry out a prevention-based strategy for food safety, plan for new food safety legislation and ensure that food labels contain clear and accurate information on nutrition.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducts enteric disease surveillance in the Foodborne, Vectorborne and Zoonotic Diseases Unit. MDH epidemiologists oversee a team of 8 to 10 interviewers (“Team Diarrhea”) who are part-time MDH employees hired from a pool of MPH students at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. The Team Diarrhea students are intensively trained and supervised by MDH epidemiologists to conduct phone interviews of enteric pathogen cases identified through surveillance with a detailed questionnaire about illness and exposures, including brand names of foods eaten and where foods were purchased. When a potential outbreak is identified, the data from these questionnaires is reviewed by the epidemiologist as the first step in the outbreak investigation. As the investigation progresses, the Team Diarrhea students conduct additional interviews as needed, assist with data analysis, and assist the epidemiologist with other duties. When a suspect food vehicle is identified, the lead epidemiologist works with the appropriate state and federal agencies to address the suspect food. This approach allows MDH to rapidly detect, investigate and solve foodborne disease outbreaks.
Carol Tucker-Foreman, distinguished fellow in food policy at the Consumer Federation of America and founder of the Safe Food Coalition, has worked on food policy in the U.S. for the past 30 years. Prior to joining Consumer Federation of America, she served as assistant secretary of agriculture for food and consumer services in the Carter Administration.
Tom Vilsack, JD
Tom Vilsack serves as the Nation’s 30th Secretary of the Agriculture. At USDA, he is leading an effort to improve the safety of the American food supply by implementing changes to food safety standards to prevent illnesses by reducing the prevalence of E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter in meat and poultry.
Ian Williams, PhD, MS
Ian Williams is Chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch at the CDC. In this role, he is responsible for the team that helps coordinate the national network of epidemiologists and other public health officials who investigate outbreaks of foodborne, waterborne and other enteric diseases.
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