May 1, 2007 -- Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach today announced the creation of the position of 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. will be assigned to this new senior leadership role.

Currently, Dr. Acheson serves as chief medical officer and director of the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response at the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

In his new role, Dr. 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.

In addition, Dr. Acheson will 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," Dr. von Eschenbach said. "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 Dr. Acheson's first projects will be the development of an agency-wide, visionary strategy for food safety and defense. The strategy 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 most critical needs in a food safety and defense system. The strategy will serve as the framework in helping the agency prioritize and address food safety and defense challenges.

As a CFSAN office director, Dr. Acheson currently has had 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 outbreaks, and other important center-wide functions.

Before joining the agency, Dr. Acheson held several research and academic positions. He has served as an associate professor at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore, where he focused on research of foodborne pathogens and, prior to that, as an associate professor at Tufts University in Boston, where he undertook basic molecular pathogenesis research on foodborne pathogens.

Dr. Acheson is a graduate of the University of London Medical School in the United Kingdom, with training in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He has published extensively and is internationally recognized both for his public health expertise in food safety and his research in infectious diseases. Additionally, Dr. Acheson is a fellow of both the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Dr. Acheson will begin this new assignment immediately. He will report to Dr. Murray Lumpkin, Deputy Commissioner for International and Special Programs.

From the May 9, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash