Who spent time this summer with Al Almanza, USDA’s deputy under secretary for food safety and its acting administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service? Industry and union representatives, foreign dignitaries, a former boss, and a few others. Almanza’s “public calendar” has been updated through September, detailing his meetings with people outside the federal government during the past three months. The top FSIS official met separately on July 7 with news radio journalist Joe DeStio and Agri-Pulse’s Jeff Nailey. officemeeting_406x250With DeStio, the topic was the new beef grinding log regulations, which for the first time has retail outlets keeping track of the source of beef going through their grinders. Broader food safety accomplishments were discussed with Nalley. The note-takers in the corners of Almanza’s media meetings were Aaron LaVailee, deputy assistant administrator — who was at both — and Nina Anand, public affairs specialist, who ran interference for the Nalley meeting. Dale Jackson, senior director of agriculture business, and Shannon McDaniel, executive director, of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma along with Kayla Gebeck, public affairs advisor with Holland & Knight LLP met with Almanza on July 13. The subject of the meeting was “beef slaughter.” Almanza, along with Lavallee, met on July 14 with Richard Raymond, who was USDA’s under secretary for food safety during the Bush Administration. The subject of the meeting was to discuss the government career of the deputy under secretary. Mark Lauritsen and Mia Dell, both of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, meet with Almanza on Aug. 23 to discuss meat and poultry employee issues. The UFCW represents many of the near 10,000 FSIS employees under Almanza’s command. On Aug. 25, Almanza and the Brian Ronholm, USDA’s other deputy undersecretary for food safty, held periodic meeting with representatives of industry and consumer. Also joining the meetings was Carmen Rottenberg, deputy FSIS administrator, and several assistants. Darin Detwiler, a food safety expert formerly the STOP Foodborne Illness, paid a visit to Almanza’s office on Aug. 30 to discuss food labeling. And on the same date, there was a discussion of a food protection memorandum of understanding between FSIS personnel led by Almansa and representatives of the Veterinary Services Brand of the Public Health Division of the Defense Health Agency. Chinese from the Hong Kong border provenance of ShenZhen and the North Korean-bordering area of LiaoNing meet the Almanza and FSIS international experts on Sept. 1. Subjects discussed included the Public Health Information System and its export module and regulatory issues between the two countries. A week later, on Sept. 8, Almanza did a “meet and greet” with a delegation from SENASICA, Mexico’s top food safety agency, led by its chief, Enrique Sanchez Cruz. On the same day, Scott Goltry, vice president of regulatory affairs for the North American Meat Institute, came around to talk about animal production biosecurity with Almanza and Carmen Rottenberg, an FSIS deputy administrator. Meat exports to Canada were subject of a Sept. 15 meeting with Almanza, two of his assistants and several staff from the House Committee on Agriculture. On Sept. 19, Fitz Elder of the agriculture and food boutique lobby shop, The Russell Group, got face time with Almanza to discuss catfish. The FSIS boss was joined by several of this legislative analysts. Bernie Shire of Meat+Poultry Magazine got an interview with Almanza, later on Sept. 19. On Sept 20, Ronald and Almanza did their monthly meetings with consumer and industry representatives. On the same day, Almanza led FSIS officials in a “meet and greet” of Chinese Food and Drug Administration officials including the director general Xu Jinghe. H.E. VuVan Tham, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Vietnam also visited Almanza on Sept. 20 to talk about catfish. The final meeting to make the public calendar for the summer was a Sept. 27 meeting with Chandler Keys, principal of the Keys Group and Andre Noguiera, chief executive for Greely, CO-based JBS USA to discuss “general JBS food safety issues.” (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)