After passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA is looking to fill a newly created position for Chief Outbreak Director.  The Director’s job will consolidate formerly disparate duties, putting one person in charge of dealing with foodborne disease outbreaks and leading a permanent team dedicated to that purpose.  The person will report to Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for food safety. 

Michael Taylor discussed the new position in an interview today.  "The recruitment of a chief medical officer and director of outbreaks here is part of an effort to really transform the way we think about and manage and learn from outbreaks in our effort to build a prevention-oriented food safety program," Taylor said.

Taylor also indicated that the FDA will create a roughly 40-person team dedicated to foodborne disease outbreaks.  "One of the things we’re doing to strengthen the way we respond is really pulling together those people into a multidisciplinary team where people will work full time on outbreaks, not as a side duty but as a full-time responsibility," Taylor said.

One of the outbreak director’s primary roles will be to lead the new team, he said, adding, "We think that’ll improve our efficiency and effectiveness in responding to outbreaks, internally and in partnership with the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], state and local public health agencies, and industry."

Taylor said that although the new position, and team, are being created in the wake of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s passage, the new steps are not occuring as a direct result of the new law.  Instead, the new law, and the new position and team, are intended to work harmoniously with the law, given that both seek to strengthen the FDA’s approach to outbreak prevention, rather than analyzing the carnage once an outbreak has occurred.  

The FDA’s job posting says the national outbreak director will have "overall responsibility for leadership and management, policy development, decision making, strategic planning, and day-to-day operations for food-related outbreaks and food incidents affecting the public health of the nation and within the purview of the FDA."

The position requires a medical degree (doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathy) and 5 years of residency training or equivalent experience and training. The salary range is about $123,000 to $155,000.