The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration have announced a new position reporting directly to the Deputy Commissioner for Foods entitled Chief Medical Officer and National Outbreak Director. The incumbent will manage a dedicated group of 40 scientists and technicians who will work full-time on disease outbreaks.

The Director will have complete responsibility for leadership and management, policy development, decision- making, strategic planning and daily operations with respect to food-related disease outbreaks incidents which affect public health. The FDA has decided that the incumbent should hold a medical degree and extensive post-graduate experience in epidemiology and infectious diseases.

The appointment of the Chief Medical Officer stems in part from the recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which extends the power of the FDA to order food recalls and to investigate outbreaks. It is hoped that the more proactive the approach by FDA will lead to more secure food supply although the proposal does not appear to address the reality that a high proportion of foods consumed in the U.S. are imported but that the FDA has limited resources to inspect an verify the wholesomeness of these products.