2009-01-15 MORE TOP STORIES
Alan Tart: The Presidential taste tester from Milton
by Jason Wrightwrite the author
January 13, 2009
MILTON – In olden days, royalty had what they called food tasters, a seemingly thankless and terrible job whereby someone would taste the lord's food – at considerable personal risk – to stave off the very real threat of poisoning.
Though the availability of poison has not have changed, the methods by which it is detected certainly have. And that's where Councilman Alan Tart comes in.
No, he not really the president's food taster. But close.
Tart, a regional retail food specialist with the FDA since 1999, is part of a specialized, 15-member team that steps in during "high security" events or disasters. It has been called upon for the G-8 summit, hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Rita, the Republican and Democratic national conventions and Sept. 11.
Tart said the Secret Service and FBI will contact the FDA and request the team if they believe food security may be an issue. The official inauguration of the President of the United States of America Jan. 20 fall into that category.
"Food defense has been a major issue for us," said Tart, who will leave Jan. 15 and return a week later. "It has been identified as a major weakness in our fight against terrorism."