McMeekin Leaving FDA at the end of June

April 13, 2023
Judy McMeekin’s retirement from the Office of Regulatory Affairs will give Commissioner Califf room to truly reorganize the food safety side of the agency.

Many people want FDA to truly clean house rather than reorganize, and another top-level retirement may give Commissioner Robert Califf that chance.

Judy McMeekin, who as an associate commissioner led the Office of Regulatory Affairs, announced she will retire June 30. She is the third top FDA official to leave this year.

Although coming up through the pharmaceutical side of the agency, Dr. McMeekin’s office was the FDA’s boots on the ground, inspecting both drug and food facilities. She has been in her current position since early 2020, so “She played a crucial role during the agency’s COVID-19 pandemic response by leveraging tools and innovative approaches to manage risks and continue to carry out mission-critical inspections and other essential work,” Califf wrote to staff.

Altogether, she has 15 years in the agency, starting in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Office of Compliance.

“She advanced our nation’s food safety system, including contributing to the development of our proposed vision for a unified FDA Human Foods Program,” Califf’s letter continued. “She has increased our ability to respond to public health emergencies by promoting increased collaborations, improved information exchange, and novel resource-sharing opportunities with domestic regulatory partners. And she has strengthened international collaboration through expanded systems recognition, advanced mutual reliance initiatives, and joint-enforcement operations with our international partners.”

After a tumultuous 2022, in which the FDA took heat for several food emergencies, including the infant formula fiasco, and a scathing expose by news source Politico, pressure mounted on Califf to reorganize the agency with a stronger commitment to its food responsibilities. The commissioner promised a new Human Foods Program, the details of which are still being worked out.

In the wake of that plan, or coincidental to it, Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response, resigned in January. Earlier this month, Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for eight years, said she will retire on May 31.

Until McMeekin is replaced, Carol Cave will serve as acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. She is currently the deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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