CHICAGO – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today honors a stalwart champion of theMike Taylor consumer, Michael R. Taylor, as its 2017 Esther Peterson Award winner. Similar to the award’s namesake, Taylor has long supported the right of every consumer to safe, nutritious, affordable food, a commitment for which he was recognized at an FMI event for future food industry leaders.

The Esther Peterson Award for Consumer Service historically has honored influencers across the fields of science, journalism, business, government and consumer advocacy. The award annually recognizes an individual who has served consumers in a significant way, and this year, Taylor becomes its 18th inductee.

Taylor began his public service as a staff lawyer at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and he served later as FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy and, most recently, as the agency’s first deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.  He also served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Taylor led the overhaul of USDA’s meat safety program following the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak in 1993, including making meat and poultry producers accountable for preventing pathogen contamination in raw products; and he led FDA’s implementation of the sweeping food safety reforms mandated by Congress in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA).

FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin paid tribute to Taylor’s commitment to the rigor of food safety protocols saying, “Mike strives to make food safer; he courageously fights for consumer trust and transparency along the supply chain, artfully negotiating with opponents who were not necessarily in favor of change.” Sarasin continued, “We, too, in the food retail industry have definitely had our share of medicine to swallow, especially with regard to the laborious processes associated with the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, but Mike was committed to understanding our challenges and to finding new ways for us to work with government to identify appropriate remedies to make the regulations work for our businesses.”

Sarasin said, “Mike has consistently demanded accountability in business to meet the demands of the consumer. When he stepped down from FDA in 2016, Food Safety News recounted, ‘When the changes Taylor made during the Clinton Administration are combined with those he’s made during the Obama Administration, he is easily the most significant person in food safety to come along in the last century.’ Today, we celebrate Mike’s significance for the food retail world, and ultimately, the shopper.”

Taylor maintains that food safety, food security, and the overall success of the food system are inextricably linked, which was his rationale for joining the Meridian Institute where he works today on projects that bring people together to make progress on food safety and food security. Taylor currently focuses his efforts in Africa.  He is also on the board of STOP Foodborne Illness, which represents illness victims and their families in the United States, advocates for effective food safety regulatory programs, and works with food companies to support the development of strong food safety cultures.

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