Most of the “food safety” meetings that top U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have been having lately with parties outside the agency are said to be about implementing and funding the new Food Safety Modernization Act.

But on June 30, when Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, led a delegation from the agency to the House side of the U.S. Capitol, it was neither implementation or funding that the food safety experts were there to talk about.

Instead, they were there to brief the House Majority staff — the Republicans — on the Energy and Commerce, Agriculture, and Small Business committees on “Cephalosporin and Antimicrobial resistance.”

“FDA Guidance 209,” a paper titled “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals” was the focus of the FDA-congressional staff discussion.  

In that paper, FDA says to minimize the development of antimicrobial resistance, steps need to be taken to limit (“ensure the judicious use”) of medically important antimicrobial drugs in animal agriculture.  The powerful Ag lobby in Washington has resisted such limitations since the 1970s.

FDA’s meeting with congressional staff is found in the public calendar the agency publishes weekly on its website.  Food Safety News periodically reviews those reported meetings as they relate to FDA’s job of regulating about 80 percent of America’s food supply. (The other 20 percent involves meat and poultry, which are regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.)

Deputy Commissioner Taylor, who heads up FDA’s Office of Foods, is involved with most of the relevant outside meetings.

On April 4, Taylor welcomed Scott Favor from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and his Capitol Hill lobbyist, Joseph Levitt. He is with Hogan, Lovelis US, LLP, a firm that does a lot of work for the food industry.

A couple weeks laer, on April 21, Taylor met over “food safety legislation” with the “Safe Food Coalition,” including such food safety advocates as Courtney Brein,

Tony Corbo, Sandra Eskin, Ami Gadhia, Dara Lieberman, Erick Olsen, David Plunkett, Christopher Waldrop, Carol-Tucker Foreman, Nancy Donley, Patricia Buck, Jean Halloran, Caroline Smith DeWaal and Sonia Roberts.

Taylor also met on April 27 about food safety education with Shelley Feist, Partnership for Food Safety Education, and  Chris Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America.

On May 2, the boys from Battle Creek, Michigan were in town, and they merited a meeting with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Taylor and other others from the agency.

Making sure that Kellogg’s president John Bryant, general counsel Gary Pilnick and executive staffer Timothy Goaley did not get lost was the lobbyist Joseph Levitt. Topic of the FDA-Kellogg’s summit meeting was “food safety.”

Taylor squeezed in another meeting on the same day.  This one with Fran Drescher, Laurie Meadoff, Jordan Brown and Maryam Razmandi with the “Cancer Schmancer Movement,” Claire Kraft from the Public Service Network, and Jason Rano with the Environmental Working Group.

They discussed disease protection and consumer protection from toxic chemicals.

Commissioner Hamburg traveled to Big Sky, MT on May 17-18 to address the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum.  It was her only other food-related meeting with outsiders during the quarter.

“Food safety” was also the topic on a May 17 meeting that Taylor had with several food industries representatives, including the omnipresent lobbyist Joseph Levitt.

Others included in the discussion included:

  • Erik Lieberman, Food Marketing Institute
  • Reed Rubinstein, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Bob Hirst, International Bottled Water Association.
  • David Ailor, National Oilseed Processors Association
  • Julia Bellinger, American Spice Trade Association
  • Randall Gordon, National Grain and Feed Association

A couple weeks later on June 2, Taylor bookended his last meeting with industry by hearing from a “food safety” gathering of consumer advocates.  They included:

  • Tony Corbo, Food and Water Watch
  • Caroline Smith DeWaal, David Plunkett, & Cindy Robrts, CSPI
  • Sandra  Eskin and Colin Finin, The Pew Health Group
  • Carol Tucker Foreman and Christoper Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America
  • Ami Gadhia, Consumers Union
  • Barbara Kowalcyk, Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention
  • Nancy Donley, Safe Tables Our Priority

In addition to Hamburg and Taylor, Michael M. Landa, the acting director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), draws an occasional interesting meeting. 

On April 7, Landa and others from the agency met with Bonnie Lieberman from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Suzzane Murphy from the University of Hawaii, and several  former CFSAN employees about estimated average requirements and recommended dairy allowances.

Then on May 11, Landa headed a FDA group that met on “health message on soft drinks containing HFCR sugar and other sweeteners” with representatives of CSPI, the National WIC Association, Center for Food Policy, and Boston University School of Medicine.