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.

  • Doc Mudd

    Looks like Taylor wastes about equal time between food industry and anti-agriculture chatterboxes.
    Who’s minding the store and pressing Congress for FDA funding while Taylor’s dutifully having himself propagandized by agriculture-hating anti-food safety whackadoodles?
    Good that we have these meetings documented. What effort is being made at FSN to cross-index 501(c)(3) non profit hatemonger organizations with illegal lobbying they’re practicing with Taylor, Hagen, Sebelius, etc.? A simple database could probably track and report that, eh?

  • Janine Zimardo

    Re:This attention your NOW giving to antibiotics in our food supply…What took so long? MRSA is such a common cause of slow painful death these days it seems normal.Heckofa Job Brownies!
    If the food lobbyist’s let you…in another 50 years maybe you’ll be forced to acknowledge the (never human tested) harmful effects of GMO wheat and other crops.
    Good Lord! We need a Food Consumer protection agency to protect us from FDA Corporate Lobbyists.

  • Doc Mudd

    Oh, oh. Some amateur googling easily exposes 501(c)(3) non-profits who are shamelessly lobbying Taylor at FDA…
    *** Environmental Working Group
    *** Consumer Federation of America (these scum also peddle insurance and loans)
    *** Food & Water Watch
    *** Consumers Union of the United States
    *** Center for Foodborne Illness & Prevention, Inc.
    Oh, oh. Naughty, naughty, naughty!
    The IRS should have a legitimate issue with back taxes due from massive donations to these slippery guys and gals!!
    And, that’s just a quick fact-check. The tip of the iceberg.
    Looks like we can make a tiny dent in our federal deficit if we collect taxes from these fraudulent “non-profit” scam operations who haunt the halls of the USDA and Congress, practicing their scaremongering courtesy of “charity” tax breaks – a void in the treasury filled in by honest taxpayers like you and me. The timing couldn’t be better, what with the debt ceiling debate, and all.
    What? Did these 501(c)(3)s think they were operating in Greece, or somewhere like that where they don’t have to pay their fair share of taxes?

  • Ruby

    Even the Quack SpinDoc must know that 501-C3’s are legally allowed to represent their interests and lobby to a certain degree — but take a stroll down K Street and thru the Congressman/lobbyist revolving doors to see where the Real Money lies…. and lies and lies….

  • Doc Mudd

    Oh, how ’bout that, Gilman – the various state NOFA businesses are all 501(c)(3) “charities”!! So, I guess you should know all the shady little angles for evading the no-lobbying rule.
    Goin’ transgender today as “Ruby”, I see. Very becoming to you!