Obama Nominates USDA's Hagen as Food Safety Under Secretary
President Obama has nominated Dr. Elisabeth Hagen for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Under Secretary for Food Safety, a position that has been vacant for nearly a year.
"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," said Agriculture 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."
The Food Safety mission of USDA includes the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is the public health agency in the USDA responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.
Obama charged Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the co-chairs of the Food Safety Working Group, with working to upgrade food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that USDA enforces these laws to keep the American people safe. As part of this effort, Vilsack has instituted a top-to-bottom review of USDA's food safety regulations.
Hagen is currently the USDA's chief medical officer, serving as an advisor to USDA mission areas on a wide range of human health issues. Prior to her current post, she was a senior executive at FSIS, where she played a key role in developing and executing the agency's scientific and public health agendas. She has been instrumental in building relationships and fostering coordination with food safety and public health partners at the federal, state, and local level, noted USDA.
Before joining the federal government in 2006, Hagen taught and practiced medicine in private and academic sectors, most recently in the District of Columbia. She is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and received a Bachelor of Science from Saint Joseph's University. Hagen completed specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in infectious disease. She is married and lives with her husband and two young children in Northern Virginia.