Michael Taylor is making a return to the Food and Drug Administration as senior adviser to the commissioner.
Taylor will be heavily involved in changes to food safety regulations. Planning the implementation of new food safety legislation is one of his responsibilities, according to a news release.
"There's really a collaboration between industry, consumers, government and experts about what we need to do to make food safer," Taylor said July 9. "That alignment is really what creates the opportunity for great progress and makes this a very special movement."
Vice President Joe Biden announced a new agenda for food safety on July 7 from the White House, based on findings of the Food Safety Working Group. One of the first steps in the plan is a draft guidance of regulations for leafy greens, tomatoes and melons. The FDA is charged with issuing a draft guidance by the end of July.
"The FDA has been working on those, and as the vice president announced, they're due at the end of the month," Taylor said. "The agency is working hard to deliver."
Taylor originally joined the agency in 1976 as a litigating attorney. He later was deputy commissioner for policy in the early 1990s, and then moved to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service and acting undersecretary for food safety from 1994-96.
Most recently a professor at George Washington University's School of Public Health, Taylor also was chairman of the steering committee for the Food Safety Research Consortium. His research efforts focused on policy, resource and institutional issues, according to the release.
"He certainly has knowledge of the produce industry," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. "I think he can just hit the ground running, and there's not any time to waste."
Although the announcement left many believing Taylor was the new deputy commissioner for foods at the agency, Taylor said he could not comment on whether he is eventually headed for that post, recently established by President Obama.
"The comments made and the handout provided on Tuesday indicated Taylor was filling that slot," said Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce Marketing Association. Silbermann attended the Biden presentation.