The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) presented Alfred Almanza, deputy under secretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the prestigious Richard E. Lyng Award in recognition of his support for and commitment to the U.S. meat and poultry industry. Meat Institute Board Chairman Brian Coelho, Central Valley Meat Co., presented the award, which honors individuals who have truly distinguished themselves for their public service, to Almanza during a reception on September 27 at the Meat Institute’s Annual Meeting and Outlook Conference in Washington, D.C.
“In his role as USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Almanza has been a tremendous advocate, supporter and chief regulator for the U.S. meat and poultry industry,” said Coelho during the award presentation. “His understanding of the complexities of the meat and poultry industry has enabled him to provide strong leadership and guidance, which has resulted in a positive relationship between government and industry to the benefit of consumers.”
Almanza simultaneously serves as Acting Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), where he has focused on modernizing inspection and identifying ways to make the agency more efficient and effective. He spearheaded the development of the New Poultry Inspection System, implemented regulatory strategies that have significantly reduced illnesses from E. coli O157:H7 and developed new Campylobacter and Salmonella performance standards. Under Almanza's leadership, FSIS launched the Public Health Information System (PHIS), a modern repository for all data about public health trends and food safety violations at the more than 6,000 FSIS-regulated plants across the country. Almanza also led the development of the FSIS Fiscal Year 2011-2016 Strategic Plan, which includes 30 distinct, quantifiable performance measures that support eight larger goals.
“Almanza played an integral role in fostering relationships and addressing science-based, technical standards and procedures with foreign food safety and veterinary officials to assist in resolving critical barriers to meat and poultry trade. His work directly led to increased market access for U.S. products in Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Colombia and Australia,” Coelho continued.
The Lyng Award is named after the late Richard E. Lyng (1918-2003), former president of the American Meat Institute (1973-79) and Secretary of Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan. Past recipients of the Lyng Award have included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman; Sens. Richard Lugar, Trend Lott, Thad Corcoran and Pat Roberts; Reps. Henry Bonilla, Kika de la Garza, Charles Stenholm and Bob Goodlatte; and Darci Vetter, U.S. chief agricultural negotiator. Meat association leaders Rosemary Mucklow and Manly Molpus have also received the award.