A year ago, Michael Taylor was sitting in his office at George Washington University, considering a basic mission of the federal government: making sure food is safe. He'd devoted his career to food safety, working in and out of government, and he was finally in academia where he could think deeply about what was wrong and how to fix it.
And then the call came.
The Obama administration wanted Taylor to implement the solutions he had been designing. A string of food poisoning outbreaks nationally had sickened thousands and killed dozens. Both parties in Congress were calling for tough new laws. The president promised the public that he would strengthen food safety.
In July, Taylor became an adviser to Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Wednesday he was named deputy commissioner for foods, a new position that elevates food in an agency long criticized for placing greater emphasis on drugs and medical devices.