Dr. David Acheson

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David W.K. Acheson, M.D., F.R.C.P, is a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Associate Commissioner for Foods, which gave him an agency-wide leadership role for all food and feed issues, including health promotion and nutrition. From August 2009 until October 2013, Dr. Acheson was Managing Director for Food and Import Safety at Leavitt Partners LLC, a consulting firm with offices in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. He is currently president and CEO of The Acheson Group, an independent spinoff of Leavitt Partners Global Food Safety Solutions.

Latest Articles

To answer the question of whether the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will make a difference, I want to take a look historically at why FSMA ever got passed by Congress. To do this, I have to wind the clock back almost 10 years. The only thing that got FSMA through Congress — and those who remember back to the end of 2010 will recall it was only by a squeak that it got through…
(This opinion piece by Dr. David Acheson was published here on Feb. 14, 2015, and is reposted with his permission.) Historically, FDA and FSIS have not been really cooperative when it comes to food safety: Each agency has a separate funding stream and is under separate departments, and, in a variety of ways, they are inherently competitive. While this may seem like a platform statement for a missive on a single food safety agency, that is…
(This blog post by Dr. David Acheson was published June 12, 2014, on The Acheson Group blog and is republished here with his permission.) On May 25, 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned USDA to declare certain strains of antibiotic-resistant (ABR) Salmonella in ground meat and poultry to be adulterants. Three years later, USDA has not yet responded. Sound familiar? It becomes even more familiar-sounding with the news that CSPI has
With each passing poultry-associated Salmonella outbreak over the past few years, there has been an increased focus on this pathogen and its control. Along with that is an increasing use of the term “virulent.” But what does “virulent” really mean, and should we worry about some strains being more virulent than others? Does evading mitigation in processing make a pathogen “more virulent,” as some seem to indicate? Does the fact that a strain is antibiotic-resistant…
The numbers say that the most outbreaks and illnesses are attributable to produce, but, in reality, fruits and vegetables are really quite safe. How can this be? A new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) takes a look at the number of cases of foodborne illness relative to the amount eaten. That is, when foodborne illnesses are considered together with consumption rates, meats, poultry, and seafood are far more likely to cause…
I recently had the honor of speaking at the 2012 Safe Quality Food International Conference in Cincinnati on the topic of the crucial role of third-party audits in moving forward with FSMA and food safety. In the talk, I spent time looking at what is working well with third-party audit systems, and where some of the vulnerabilities are. Based on reflections from giving that talk, I thought I would share some of what I see…
Pink Slime vs. lean, finely textured beef. Photos of rats with tumors vs. scientists disputing study methods. Conventionally grown produce vs. local and/or organically grown. Each has been the subject of media “attention.”  And as the inaccuracies in the statements reveal, articles on each have too often been published without true understanding, knowledge or representation of the complete facts. This may be due to media jumping on a story in order to  break it first,…
In an industry traditionally anxious to be self policing and oppose regulation, the tide has turned. The first evidence of this was in 2006 after the large E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to spinach, when the produce industry was seriously requesting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration develop regulations around fresh produce. Since then, we have seen repeated outbreaks and recalls in which whole commodities have suffered (such as peanuts, pistachios, tomatoes, cantaloupes and…
After nearly being chopped from existence, the USDA’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) has been saved for the remainder of 2012. However its future existence is questionable. MDP is a national foodborne pathogen monitoring program implemented in 2001. Through cooperation with State agriculture departments and other federal agencies, MDP manages the collection, analysis, data entry and reporting of foodborne pathogens on selected agricultural commodities at the retail level. At issue for MDP are its operation and…
Everyone with even a cursory interest in FSMA continues to ask, “So when are the four key proposed rules (Produce Safety Standards, Preventive Controls for Human Food, Preventive Controls for Animal Food, and Foreign Supplier Verification Program) going to be published?”  I have to confess right up front that I don’t have any better idea of the right answer to that question than you do. However, despite the lack of clarity on release dates, there…