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More meetings disclosed on public calendars at FSIS and FDA

It’s probably just a coincidence, but the day after Food Safety News reported on the paltry reporting of 2016 meetings by top food safety officials with parties outside the federal government, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published the information for two more months.

USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety and Acting FSIS Administrator Al Almanza spent the better parts of six days in February and five days in March meeting with people from outside the federal government.

calendar2016_406x250Almanza met with Dutch government officials on Feb. 2, Chandler Keys and Scott Bennett from the Keys Groups about Advance Pierre Foods on Feb. 4 and the National Chicken Council about the new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as in raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings on Feb. 9. He had follow up meetings about Advance Pierre Foods and with the National Chicken Council on Feb. 24.

Also in February, the man who runs FSIS met with Virginia Department of Agriculture officials on Feb. 11 about the new catfish inspection program. The same day, Almanza did separate monthly meetings with industry and consumer organizations.

He finished up his outside meetings for the month on Feb. 25 by meeting with Barbara Patterson of the National Farmers Union and Jess Peterson of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association about Country of Origin labeling. All the details reported for these meetings, including who else from FSIS was in attendance, can be found here.

At the table in March
Barry Carpenter, who heads the North American Meat Institute, met with Almanza on March 4 about meat imports. On the same day, Almanza also met with Tracie Letterman, regulatory affairs director for the Humane Society of the United States over “downer calves.”

Chandler Keys, principal at Keys Group, and Jerry O’Callaghan, director of Investor Relations for JBS, met on March 7 with Almanza about “USA/Brazil Equivalency.”  And Scott Goltry, North Amercian Meat Institute, was in on March 10 to meet with Almanza about process controls.

On March 16 Almanza met with representatives of Smithfield Foods about food safety and trade; with Steve Armstrong and Kelly Johnston from Campbell Soup along with Bob Hibbert  of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, about GMO labeling; and Dennis Erpelding  and Sameer Bhariok from Elanco about “SPS Advancement.”

Almanza heard Brett Schwemer and Jody Swaim from OFW Law talk about “international protein” on March 18.  Canada’s assistant agricultural minister visited with Almanza on March 22.

And then there was another meeting with Chipotle Mexican Grill. Unlike the one that previously occurred in January, Chipotle’s marketing and communications people were not present. This meeting, on March 22, included only two Chipotle executives — Tim Spong, executive director safety, security and risk, and James Marsden, executive director of food safety.

Details about the March FSIS meetings can be found here. Many more public calendars are now available for FDA officials as well and can be found here.  Many of the FDA officials that do report their public calendars are involved with drug approvals or medical devices, and not food.

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