Since I learned about his war on raw milk, I have wanted to know more about the man behind it. Information and photos of John Sheehan, the FDA official head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Plant and Dairy Food Safety, are hard to find. According to a recent post on The Complete Patient by David Gumpert, author of The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights, David had to resort to the Freedom of Information act to get even basic data–a resume–about John Sheehan, who is the “apparent architect of the six-year federal and state assault on raw milk producers.” David had never before been refused basic background data on any company or government official. Check out David’s post to see a photo of John Sheehan, the first I’ve seen anywhere.
So who is John Sheehan and what was he doing before joining the FDA? His resume says that 12 of his 17-year career before joining the FDA was “as a Quality Control Manager for pizza cheese maker Leprino Foods Co.” In that position he managed “a budget of approximately $1.5 million per anum, supervising the activities of between 21-26 personnel, including two supervisors…” As David says, that’s “a far cry from his current position, where he’s in charge of some millions in budgetary allocations and hundreds of inspectors and other employees.”
Why is information about John Sheehan so hard to get? Here’s what David thinks:
I might initially have been tempted to think it was a reflection of Sheehan’s insecurity over the ordinary-ness of his previous career, but having observed his overall secretiveness and aggressiveness in fighting to deprive people of nutrient-dense foods, I’m sure it has more to do with his self-righteousness and determination to accumulate ever more power, to use at his discretion to impose the FDA’s will. It’s also symbolic of what we are up against as we fight the powers we work each day to pay and support.
Does this additional information about John Sheehan help us understand why he is against our wanting to eat the foods that keep us healthy? I’m not sure it helps our understanding, but it does at least put some substance to the man behind the war on food rights–the man who is doing everything in his power (and he’s got a lot of it, apparently unchecked by the courts or Congress) to end all access to raw milk and other unprocessed real foods.