WASHINGTON, June 7, 2023—The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) announced today that Roberta Wagner has been named senior vice president, regulatory and scientific affairs, succeeding a position held by Joseph Scimeca, Ph.D., who announced his retirement from IDFA earlier this year. Wagner comes to IDFA from Consumer Brands Association, formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where she served as vice president of regulatory and technical affairs since 2019.
“Roberta is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable regulatory affairs experts in the U.S. food sector today, and IDFA is so pleased to welcome her to our team on behalf of our IDFA members and U.S. dairy,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president & CEO of IDFA. “Roberta comes to IDFA with deep technical knowledge, relationships built over decades, and the trust and confidence of our members and stakeholders. I am confident that with Roberta’s leadership on regulatory issues, IDFA is better positioned than ever to make a difference for our members.”
Wagner spent 33 years in public service, most recently as the assistant administrator of the Office of Policy and Program Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Previously, Wagner served as the deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Field Operations at FSIS where she oversaw a workforce of 7,800 inspection program personnel, including consumer safety officers, public health veterinarians and food inspectors. Wagner also spent more than 25 years with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working in a variety of roles from analytical chemist to associate commissioner for Food Safety Modernization Act implementation.
“I am excited to be joining the IDFA team and for the opportunity to advocate for food safety, labeling and nutrition policies that are science based, practical to implement, and that facilitate innovation and growth in the extremely important and diverse dairy industry,” said Wagner.
IDFA’s Regulatory and Scientific Affairs team provides guidance and consultation to IDFA members in the areas of food safety, food defense, federal standards of identity, labeling, nutrition policy, sustainability, and environmental and worker safety. Scimeca will remain in the role through the summer to assist Wagner and IDFA with the transition in leadership.
IDFA’s Scientific and Regulatory Affairs team oversees the association’s engagement with the FDA, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and globally with the UN agencies and the Codex Alimentarius. IDFA experts in regulatory affairs are called to testify before U.S. Congress, give verbal comments and testimony to state and federal agencies, and work collaboratively with regulators at state, federal and international levels to help shape regulatory policies that impact how dairy foods and beverages are produced and processed in the United States and marketed throughout the world.
During his time in the SVP role, Scimeca helped to guide IDFA members through the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic elevated dairy’s role in the field of nutrition, maintaining dairy alongside fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the healthy dietary pattern recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 report. Importantly, as a food safety expert, Scimeca brought expertise, partnerships, and knowledge to IDFA members to strengthen the industry’s commitment to food safety.
“I couldn’t be happier in turning over the reins of our Regulatory team to Roberta,” said Scimeca. “I’ve known Roberta for many years, during her tenure with FSIS and with FDA, as well as her most recent time in the industry. I am confident that our team will continue to be in good hands under her leadership, and IDFA will continue to provide value for our members and the U.S. dairy industry.”
Michael Dykes added: “I am grateful for Joe’s leadership of the Regulatory team and his efforts to advance IDFA and the interests of our members during his important tenure, including being instrumental in guiding our members and industry through the COVID-19 pandemic, among many other achievements.”
American dairy products are known throughout the world for safety, quality, affordability, and consistency. Dairy is one of the most regulated industries in the United States, with more than one-third of all food standards of identity governing dairy products. The goal at IDFA is to find the right balance between regulation and innovation. IDFA believes standards and regulations play an important role in ensuring food safety, quality, and consistency, but burdensome rules can stifle innovation and capital investments, hinder job creation and reduce U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. Under Wagner’s leadership, IDFA will continually advocate for practical and modern regulations that protect consumers while allowing innovation and growth in the dairy industry.
Wagner will begin in her new role this summer.