As one of the world’s most esteemed experts in food safety, Dr. David Acheson has confronted many of the most critical threats facing today’s global food supply.  He is Managing Director, Food and Import Safety Practice, at Leavitt Partners, a strategic advisory firm specializing in health, environment and trade issues.

Prior to joining Leavitt Partners, Dr. Acheson served as Associate Commissioner of Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which provided him an agency-wide leadership role for all food and feed issues, including health promotion and nutrition.  He has published extensively and is internationally recognized both for his public health expertise in food safety and his research in infectious diseases.  Dr. Acheson is also a fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

ABOUT David W.K. Acheson, M.D.   (+/-)

Relentless Pursuit of Pandemic Prevention

Dr. David Acheson graduated from the University of London Medical School in 1980, and after practicing internal medicine and infectious diseases in the United Kingdom, moved to the New England Medical Center and Tufts University in Boston in 1987. As an Associate Professor at Tufts University, he undertook basic molecular pathogenesis research on food-borne pathogens --especially Shiga toxin-producing E. coli-- and established himself as a world-renowned expert in this area, serving on WHO expert panels and becoming a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods . 

Safeguarding America’s Health

In September 2002, Dr. Acheson became the Chief Medical Officer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). In January 2004, he was named Director of CFSAN’s Food Safety and Security Staff. In January 2005, the mission of the office was expanded and renamed the Office of Food Safety, Defense and Outreach. Two years later, it was further expanded to become the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response and in May 2007, Dr. Acheson was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner for Food Protection to provide advice and counsel to the FDA Commissioner on strategic and substantive food safety and food defense matters. In January 2008, he was named Associate Commissioner of Foods.



Food For Thought: The Changing Landscape of Food Safety and Regulation

In recent years, food safety has gained significantly more attention than in the past. If one had to look for triggering events, it was likely a combination of the 2006 E. coli outbreak linked to fresh bagged spinach, followed by the 2007 discovery of melamine and melamine related compounds in wheat gluten that led to the deaths of many pets in the United States.

The result of these and many other high profile outbreaks in 2006 onwards resulted in greater scrutiny by Congress, new actions by the Administration, heightened media attention and diminished consumer confidence. This focus on food safety remains unabated and not satiated in many whose aim is to introduce new and more stringent regulations on the food industry.  The current environment is one of increased regulatory oversight.

Pending new federal food safety legislation could target the whole supply chain (from grower to retailer and restaurateur), and will likely impact anyone on the planet involved in the growing, processing, manufacturing, distributing, importing or selling food to consumers in interstate commerce in the United States.
There are unquestionably risks in the food supply chain with many in the business having little or no insight into their upstream suppliers — especially if global in nature. Improved detection and epidemiological tools will likely link more outbreaks to specific foods in the coming years adding to the ever increasing list of “high-risk” food.

This time of change and greater oversight poses challenges to the food industry but also creates opportunities for those that seek them. Whether your organization is directly involved in the food supply chain or in an associated industry such as food testing, food tracking or assessing risk, the opportunity to make your company a leader and thereby by enhance and protect your brand has never been so great. In a time when brands can sink overnight in the court of public opinion, it has never been more important to stay informed, ahead of the curve, identify and manage risks and build an unpenetrable food safety culture for your organization.

Are You Ready? Effective Emergency Preparedness and Response

Every person and level of government has a responsibility to prepare for and respond in the event of a natural or man-caused emergency. Preparation requires every nation, every city, every business, every school, every hospital, every clinic, every church, and every household to have a plan and continuously improve it. And the key to success will be collaboration.

Collaboration requires clear roles and responsibilities, extensive communication and complete transparency. In the case of pandemic preparedness, accurate and shared surveillance is also required. We need to constantly refine these components and continuously improve our readiness.

Levels of government have an indispensable role. The federal government should do things that no individual state can do on its own. Capacity building, research and development and coordination are among these responsibilities. State and local governments vary economically, demographically and geographically. Each level of local government knows their communities and understands their unique needs. It is the melding of federal, state, local and individual efforts that will optimize emergency preparedness and response.

Dr. David Acheson has led preparation, response and recovery efforts in pandemic readiness, bio-terrorism and man-made disasters. Leveraging his hands-on experience, Dr. Acheson’s informative and enlightening presentation adds value to the emergency preparedness and response of any local, state, and national government as well as non-profit and corporate enterprises around the world.