USDA will announce the departure today of Elisabeth Hagen as under secretary for food safety, a USDA official tells POLITICO. An announcement is expected later from USDA’s Office of Communications that could outline her leaving the department in mid-December.
Hagen has served as under secretary since Aug. 2010. Her most notable policy accomplishments include declaring the “big six” non-O157 E. coli strains as adulterants for certain beef products, instituting ‘test and hold,’ tightening up Salmonella performance standards and creating the first standards for Campylobacter. It’s not known where Hagen — who practiced medicine before joining USDA and serving in several leadership roles — will go next. She will almost certainly be courted by industry and trade groups to advise on food safety matters.
Dr. Hagen will be sorely missed. She was smart, had a great sense of humor, tolerated me for the most part, and always knew that her job was one deeply rooted in the health of the consumers of the products she regulated. She was one of the very best who has ever held that position.
Statements on Departure of Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen from USDA
WASHINGTON, November 15, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen today made the following statements on Under Secretary Hagen’s departure from USDA:
“Today I am announcing that I will be embarking in mid-December on a new challenge in the private sector. I am grateful to Secretary Vilsack for the opportunity to serve as Under Secretary for Food Safety and be part of his leadership team. I also want to thank the dedicated public servants of FSIS 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.”
It has been an ambitious three years. USDA and FSIS have successfully made preventing foodborne illness a real priority. The steps we have taken, from modernizing the agency, strengthening oversight of industry and increasing outreach to consumers has led to safer food and fewer foodborne illnesses.”
“Thanks to Elisabeth Hagen’s hard work and sound leadership of the thousands of employees at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, America’s food supply is safer today than ever before. FSIS has taken a wide range of new and innovative steps to protect consumers – from adopting a new zero-tolerance policy for additional strains of E. coli in beef, to adopting new standards to protect Americans from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry, and much more. I’m proud of our record under the Obama Administration to ensure a safe food supply for Americans, and Under Secretary Hagen has played a key role in those efforts. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”