FDA’s food safety czar Acheson off to consulting

David, we hardly knew ye.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s most public food safety face since the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in spinach, assistant commissioner for foods and barfblog.com fan, David Acheson (right, exactly as shown), is leaving to join a new consulting firm, headed by former Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Jane Zhang of the Wall Street Journal reported today that Acheson said, in an email to FDA employees,

“I wanted to let you know that Friday, July 31st will be my final day of service at the FDA. I have accepted a position with Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm, who are starting a new focus on food and import safety and have asked me to head the new activity.”

The firm, based in Salt Lake City, where Leavitt served as governor, already has hired a number of former HHS officials, including Medicaid chief Dennis Smith.

Acheson said in an interview he will remain in Washington and will use his “strong public-health perspective” to help food companies address food safety issues.

Acheson spoke in a July 2007 interview with the Washington Post about his passion for public education and his commitment to making the wobbly global food-safety system work better — even though he’s acutely aware that, in his new position, a food-related outbreak has as much potential to break his career as to make it.