The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan (“Action Plan”). The Action Plan provides an overview of the key priorities FDA expects to pursue through 2020 to support innovation in plant and animal biotechnology. As highlighted in FDA Commissioner Gottlieb’s statement, the agency is committed to fostering innovative advances in the field while ensuring the safety of plant and animal biotechnology products used by consumers. The Action Plan identifies three concepts as critical to FDA’s success in fulfilling its goal: 1) advancing public health by promoting innovation; 2) strengthening public outreach and communication; and 3) increasing engagement with domestic and international partners.

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Photo of Joe Levitt Joe Levitt

Partner, Washington, DC

As the FDA’s former top food regulator, Joe Levitt brings a true insider’s knowledge to helping food industry clients deal effectively with the FDA. Whether influencing policy making or confronting a threatened compliance action, Joe’s 25 years of FDA experience puts clients in the best position to succeed.  In the private sector, Joe was on the ground floor when Congress developed the landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Joe was also a leading voice for the food industry when the FDA developed regulations that all food companies must now follow. No one can help navigate the labyrinth of FDA’s FSMA regulations better than Joe and his team, and no one can better put your company in the driver’s seat when the FDA inspector knocks on your door for your first FSMA inspection.

Joe adeptly handles high visibility recalls and compliance actions. If a company finds itself in trouble with the FDA, they need someone with a deep insider’s understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Joe knows what the agency expects in the compliance arena, and the bar clients will be expected to meet. He can communicate his client’s position calmly and effectively to the FDA so the matter gets put behind them. His record of “helping startups and multinational companies… survive Food and Drug Administration investigations and avoid import bans that could shutter the companies,” led to Joe being named a Law360 Food & Beverage MVP (2016).

Joe is among the most decorated officials in FDA history, with his achievements being recognized by multiple U.S. presidents, cabinet secretaries, and FDA Commissioners. He maintains close working relationships with senior FDA officials and has served as the Board Chair of the FDA Alumni Association.

Mary Lancaster

Mary Lancaster provides practical guidance on complex regulatory issues to help food and beverage companies in all segments of the industry achieve their business goals.

Mary advises clients on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) compliance with current good manufacturing practice (cGMP), advertising and labeling compliance, and food safety issues that arise throughout the entire food supply chain. She also advises on enforcement actions and drafts comments on proposed regulations and agency guidance. Mary also has experience with matters in front of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Prior to law school, Mary was a legal assistant at a Washington, D.C. law firm, where she assisted lawyers in white-collar investigations, pharmaceutical class action litigations, and federal habeas petitions for death row inmates.