Bush to Nominate USDA Veteran as Food Safety Chief

President Bush will nominate Elizabeth "Beth" Johnson as acting under secretary for Food Safety at USDA, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said Sept. 25 that he welcomes the announcement. "Beth Johnson steps up to the challenge, highly regarded for her commitment and my confidence in her ability to marshal the resources of dedicated people and considerable scientific research for inspection and food safety," said Schafer.

Johnson currently is chief assistant to Deputy Ag Secretary Chuck Conner and has been deputy chief of Staff since May 2005. A registered dietitian, she joined USDA in 2002 after more than a decade advising government and the private sector about nutrition, farm credit, and livestock. Her previous government experience includes positions at FDA as a nutritionist for the food labeling division and as a research dietitian at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, according to the agency's news release.

Johnson is a native of Madison, Ind., with an MS degree in nutrition from the University of Maryland and a BS in dietetics from Ball State University. Her designation as acting secretary is pending the Oct. 1 retirement from federal service of Dr. Richard A. Raymond, who has overseen the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service since July 2005. "Dr. Raymond has maintained his decency, humility, and caring from his days as a country doctor and Nebraska Chief Medical Officer throughout his responsibilities here at USDA to direct actions that prevent disease and promote the quality and safety of the food we eat," Schafer said.

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