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.

Nestle says Peanut Corp. sucked; Kellogg’s says, how the hell could we know?

David Mackay doesn’t look like Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall fame.

But Kellogg’s CEO Mackay did an outstanding impersonation of McDonald’s, “How the hell should I know” skit (below) in front of a U.S. Congressional committee today.

“When you look at Kellogg, we have 3,000 ingredients and 1,000 suppliers, I think it’s common industry practice to use a third party.”

Not common enough for Nestle North America, which rejected Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely plant as a supplier in 2002 after it found the plant had no plans to address hazards like salmonella.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in January 2006, Nestle also rejected the company’s Plainview, Texas, plant after finding dozens of dead mice rotting in and around the plant, dead pigeons near a peanut receiving door and live birds roosting inside the plant.

Congressional types also heard today that auditors AIB — also known as the American Institute of Baking based in Manhattan (sigh, Kansas) — were hired and paid by Peanut Corp. of America, notified the company in advance when they were coming, how to prepare for inspections and then gave its plants glowing reviews.

An inspector with AIB wrote to the manager of Peanut Corp.’s Blakely, Ga., in a December 2008 e-mail produced today by the committee that,

“You lucky guy. I am your AIB auditor. So we need to get your plant set up for any audit.”

Mackay told the committee a version of, “how the hell could we know?” and that AIB is the most commonly used inspector by food companies in America.

Not for long. And for a company to say it meets industry standards ain’t so great when 700 are sick and nine dead.

Kellogg’s sells poop; asks taxpayers to wipe up

Kellogg CEO David Mackay is planning to grunt out a giant turd in Washington tomorrow.

To see how his assertions would be, uh, swallowed, Mackay’s comments were leaked to an uncritical press this afternoon, just like in the financial meltdown. Both AP and Reuters proclaimed that Kellogg’s “is urging lawmakers to overhaul the nation’s food safety system.”

Mackay (right, exactly as shown) wants food safety placed under a new leader in the Health and Human Services department. He also called for new requirements that all food companies have written safety plans, annual federal inspections of facilities that make high-risk foods, and other reforms.

Mackay whined that Kellogg’s had to recall more than 7 million cases of crackers and cookies, at a cost of $65 million to $70 million, and that "Audit findings reported no concerns that the facility may have had any pathogen-related issues or any potential contamination.”

Kellogg’s is a multi-billion dollar company asking for a government handout to do what Kellogg’s should be doing – selling a safe product. Kellogg’s helped create the paper albatross that is third-party audits instead of having its own people at plants that supply product which Kellogg’s resells at a substantial profit. And now this crapmeister is going to tell Washington how to strengthen food safety when he can’t keep shit out of his own company’s peanut cracker thingies. Must be a day of dicks.

Curb Your Enthusiasm again features L.A.’s restaurant inspection grades

I never liked the television series, Seinfeld.

During it’s original run from 1989 — 1998, I rarely watched, and when I did, found the characters self-indulgent and whiny. Which they were. It just wasn’t that funny.

Curb Your Enthusiasm by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David is much better.

For the second week now of the new season, the Los Angeles restaurant inspection signs — in both cases A — are prominently displayed.

Tonight, as Larry is waiting to get ice cream behind a sample abuser — someone who asks to sample every flavor available — a big L.A. restaurant inspection A is displayed in the window (thanks, Reece, for finding this pic).

Larry won’t however take the $50 he is owed in a golf bet from the newly orphaned Marty Funkhouser after the death of his mother, preceded by the death of his father last year, because of its dodgy microbiological quality after being removed from the insole of Marty’s jogging shoe.

Larry also says that the customer is usually "a moron and an a**hole."

But they pay. And they like their restaurant inspection disclosure letters (L.A.), colors (Toronto), or smiley faces (Denmark).

Orlando, this is directed at you.