THE top food safety official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Nov. 15 that she would be leaving her post. Elizabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, said she was leaving the Department in mid-December to embark “on a new challenge in the private sector.”
Hagen did not specific what that new private sector role might entail. Since mid-2010, she has been the political appointee responsible for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Department’s key regulatory role in protecting the U.S. food supply.
In addition to thanking the Secretary for the opportunity to serve on the USDA leadership team, Hagen praised FSIS employees “for their tireless work in protecting the public health; it has been an honor to serve with them.”
“I've had the pleasure of serving FSIS in a career capacity as well as Under Secretary, so I know full well their commitment to protecting public health,” Hagen concluded.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Hagen was a hard working public servant who imparted “sound leadership” to the thousands of FSIS workers under her charge.
“Under Dr. Hagen’s leadership, USDA adopted a new zero-tolerance policy for additional strains of E. coli in beef and adopted new standards to protect Americans from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry,” he said. “She also spearheaded the effort to develop a new Public Health Information System to better inform consumers about proper food handling and food safety, to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses.”
Prior to her appointment as Under Secretary, Hagen served in a number of leadership roles at USDA, including as the department's Chief Medical Officer and in FSIS Office of Public Health Science. Before joining public service, she taught and practiced clinical medicine, with a specialty in internal medicine and infectious diseases.