He hasn’t found a cure for cancer or put an end to the common cold, but the United States is a healthier nation thanks to Capt. Charles Otto III, U.S. Public Health Service.
In the 1990s he worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
on developing the Model Food Code, a kind of blueprint of
best-practice regulations that states can choose to adopt in part
or as a whole. The food code has helped decrease the prevalence of
food borne illnesses, and today Otto is relying on that experience
to help lead the development of the Model Aquatic Health
“The model we’re using [for the MAHC] is very similar
to the food code model,” he explains.
Otto was involved with the MAHC from the start and within the CDC,
he says the core of the project is a partnership between
epidemiologists and environmental health professionals. He and
Dr. Michael Beach, CDC’s
associate director for healthy water, have helped facilitate that
working relationship, which was key early on in establishing the
broader organizational support that helped get the MAHC off the
Today, Otto is a member of the Steering Committee, helping set the
framework of what should be in the MAHC, codifying material as it
is submitted by the technical committees and establishing the time
frame. The Steering Committee also is working with the CDC’s
public health law office to create a launch plan, to inform and
“It’s not just writing the code, but trying to work on
the implementation phase, too,” says Otto, a graduate of the
University of Mississippi.
With Otto amongst the leadership, if all goes as planned, MAHC will
be in place in the next few years, ready to serve as a template
just like its predecessor, the food code. And he will have left the
nation healthier, again.