After eight months on the job as boss over USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service headquarters  (FSIS), Administrator Paul Kiecker likely is feeling like P.T. Barnum.

Kiecker’s meetings with people outside of the federal government occur with enough frequency and in such numbers that his schedule must feel like a three-ring circus.

Consider just one series of meetings from Kiecker’s public calendar, posted through October on the FSIS website:

On Oct. 13, he took an “operational update” from several top managers at Tyson Foods. On Oct. 20, the FSIS administrator met with Holland & Knight lawyers about California’s Proposition 12, which might upend the hog market in western states. Representatives of USDA regulated establishments were invited to share their ongoing COVID-19 experiences on the next day.

FSIS meetings continue to be conducted only by telephonic means.

Kiecker and other FSIS managers also participated in the Oct. 1 telephonic conference with Birko’s Bob Ogren and Dave Premo, and the Under Secretary for Food Safety, Mindy Brashears. The subject was new technologies in the protein sector.

Brashears remained busy on the phones with reporters from IEG Policy, Meatingplace, and Food Safety News, along with her monthly consumer and industry stakeholder meetings.

Kiecker became FSIS administrator last February.  He was named deputy administrator for the FSIS in May of 2018 and served as the Agency’s Acting Administrator until January of 2019.

Throughout his 30 years with FSIS, he committed to a strong public health vision that guided him to identify opportunities for improvement, manage resources, and achieve food safety objectives to prevent foodborne illness, according to the USDA announcement.

Since joining FSIS in 1988 as a food inspector, Kiecker has served in a number of roles at the agency, including Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Field Operations. He went to Washington D.C. to serve as Executive Associate for Regulatory Operations, after serving as the District Manager in Springdale, AR, and Madison, WI, as well as Deputy District Manager in Madison, WI. Kiecker’s experience with FSIS also includes work with the Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit, where he has served as a Compliance Investigator and as Supervisory Compliance Officer.

FSIS is the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that the United States’ commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. With nearly 10,000 employees and an annual budget in the $1 billion range,  the FSIS assigns inspection personnel to the nation’s 6,200 meat and poultry slaughter and processing facilities.

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