Word out of Washington, D.C., is that President Obama will nominate Elisabeth Hagen to fill the post of USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety.
Hagen is a medical doctor who's been involved in medicine's private and academic sectors. She's been with the USDA since 2006, serving as a senior executive at the Food Safety Inspection Service. Most recently she was USDA's Chief Medical Officer, serving as an adviser across USDA on a wide range of human health issues.
Hagen holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a B.S. from Saint Joseph's University. She completed her specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in infectious disease.
"There is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers from harm, which is why food safety is one of USDA's top priorities," says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We can and must do a better job of ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products regulated by USDA, and Dr. Hagen brings the background, skills and vision to lead USDA's efforts to make sure that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply."
House Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a vocal critic of the industry's food safety record, commented that the position requires "… a strong understanding of the concept of how to build a new inspection program. There is a lot to be done, and a long way to go in making our food safety system the best that it can possibly be, and I look forward to working with Dr. Hagen to accomplish critical food safety goals."
“Dr. Hagen will be a tremendous asset to USDA in its efforts to protect our nation’s food supply,” says National Pork Producer Council President Don Butler. “She brings a wealth of knowledge on food-safety issues, and we look forward to working with her."
NPPC is urging the Senate to quickly confirm Hagen.
American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle, said, "We are gratified that a person with Dr. Hagen's scientific and medical training will lead the agency's food safety efforts. The meat industry is proud of the progress that we have made in reducing bacteria on both fresh and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products over the last decade. There is still more work to be done, however."