FDA commissioner announces new food protection position


Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach has announced the creation of a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position-assistant commissioner for food protection-to provide advice and counsel to the commissioner on strategic and substantive food safety and food defense matters.

David Acheson, M.D., F.R.C.P., is the first to be assigned to this senior leadership role, reporting to Dr. Murray Lumpkin, deputy commissioner for international and special programs. Acheson serves as chief medical officer and director of the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). In his new role, Acheson will work with individual FDA product centers, as well as the Office of Regulatory Affairs to coordinate FDA’s food safety and defense assignments and commitments.

The agency says Acheson will also serve as the commissioner’s direct liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services, of which FDA is a part, and to other U.S. departments and agencies on food safety and food defense related inter-agency initiatives.

“The protection of America’s food supply and therefore the safety of Americans eating food of domestic or international origin is of utmost importance to me as a physician, and to the mission of this agency,” von Eschenbach says. “We’ve seen a rapid transformation of the food safety system due to advances in production technology, rapid methods of distribution, and the globalization of food sources. Dr. Acheson’s wealth of experience, and knowledge of the science behind food protection, will help the agency keep pace with this transformation in order to ensure that the safety and nutritional value of our food supply is second to none.”

One of Acheson’s first assignments will be the development of an agency-wide strategy for food safety and defense that will identify and characterize changes in the global food safety and defense system, and identify current and future challenges and opportunities. It will also name potential barriers, gaps, and the most critical needs in a food safety and defense system.

As a CFSAN office director, Acheson currently has the lead for emergency response, as well as outreach and communications to industry, state, and consumers on issues pertaining to the center. He manages a staff of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and others in providing risk assessments, aid in epidemiological investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks, and other important center-wide functions.