July 25–WASHINGTON–Garry L. McKee, director of the Wyoming Department of Health since 1999, has been named as administrator of the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service.
McKee’s selection was announced Tuesday, four days after the ConAgra Beef Co. recalled 19 million pounds of ground beef because of possible contamination with E. coli bacteria. The recall, by the Greeley, Colo.-based company, was the second largest meat recall in U.S. history.
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said McKee’s more than three decades of public health experience will be of help to the department as it tries to tighten its food safety programs.
For 18 years, McKee was chief of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s public health laboratory and he has been a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Reserve since 1992. He also serves on a national public health anti-terrorism preparedness task force run by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
At least 20 people in Colorado became ill from beef supplied by ConAgra. Eight other cases of E. coli infection that might be related have been found in California, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.