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Steptoe Broadens Food Safety Practice with Addition of FDA's Cheeseman and Simmons

November 28, 2011

(November 28, 2011, Washington, DC) —Steptoe & Johnson LLP is expanding the food safety practice of its Environmental Practice Group with the addition of Mitchell Cheeseman and Ralph Simmons from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Dr. Cheeseman, who served as Acting Director of the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety, and Mr. Simmons, a Senior Policy Analyst who served as Dr. Cheeseman’s senior advisor, are joining Steptoe as a managing director and partner, respectively.  They will be resident in the firm’s Washington office.

Dr. Cheeseman has been an FDA official with responsibility for the safety of food ingredients and food contact substances for 20 years.  During his career, he has held leadership roles in the development of FDA’s food-contact substance notification program, the threshold of regulation approach to obtaining expedited FDA clearance of food additives, and the international effort to implement in food safety regulation the principle of the threshold of toxicological concern (TTC), among many other initiatives.  As Deputy Director, and then Acting Director of the Office of Food Additive Safety for the past five years, Dr. Cheeseman was responsible for setting policy for approval of food ingredients and food contact substances.  He also played an instrumental role in efforts to harmonize FDA’s regulatory policy with that of the EU, China, and other international regulators.

Mr. Simmons, in his role as a senior policy analyst, advised Dr. Cheeseman with respect to the development and implementation of FDA regulations and policies related to food additive safety.  Prior to joining FDA, Mr. Simmons spent more than 20 years in private practice counseling clients, including many of the major U.S. food producers and food packaging manufacturers, on FDA and international regulation of food-contact substances.  He also represented clients in the regulation of direct food additives, animal feed additives, food labeling, drugs, and medical devices, among other FDA areas.  He has litigated cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and has represented trade associations in corporate, antitrust, tax, regulatory, and legislative matters.

“Mitch and Ralph bring a terrific combination of legal, regulatory, and scientific expertise to Steptoe’s growing food safety practice,” said Roger E. Warin, chair of Steptoe.  “In addition, their expertise and depth in FDA matters will greatly complement our existing European food contact clearance work in Brussels by providing clients with a one stop shop for securing both EU and US approvals for their products.”

Steptoe’s Environmental Practice Group provides a broad range of international legal and regulatory services related to the production and marketing of finished food, food ingredients, food contact materials (including packaging materials), and dietary supplements.  In Brussels, the EU food safety practice is led by Dr. Anna Gergely, the firm’s Director EHS Regulatory and its Principal Scientist.

“Having previously worked with Anna, I’ve closely watched and admired the food safety practice Steptoe has built,” said Mr. Simmons.  “I think my experience advising companies on FDA compliance of food packaging and food ingredients and products coupled with Mitch’s experience as a senior FDA food additive safety regulator for the past five years, will provide Steptoe’s clients with the regulatory reach few firms can match.”

Dr. Cheeseman added:  “I am truly looking forward to embarking on this new chapter in my career and utilizing the knowledge and experience I gained from my 20 years at FDA to advise clients on compliance issues with regard to the marketing of food-contact substances, direct food and color additives, GRAS ingredients, and components of dietary supplements.”

Dr. Cheeseman earned a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Memphis and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Florida.  Mr. Simmons graduated from Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.  Both have authored numerous articles and are frequent speakers on FDA topics.

About Steptoe

Steptoe & Johnson LLP is an international law firm widely recognized for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in complex litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in guiding business transactions.  The firm has more than 500 lawyers and other professionals in offices in Beijing, Brussels, Century City, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington.  For more information, visit