The White House plans to submit the name of Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban to the United States Senate for confirmation as USDA’s next under secretary for food safety.

Esteban is President Joe Biden’s choice to become the nation’s sixth Senate-confirmed undersecretary for food safety since Congress created the job in 1994.

Esteban is a veteran of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), where he worked since 2001, becoming its chief scientist in 2018.

Here’s his official biography at FSIS:

The presidential appointment requires Senate confirmation before Esteban can take the office, which became vacant on Jan. 20, 2021.  Before then, Mindy Brashears was undersecretary for food safety during the Trump Administration.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a statement said Esteban has a “deep understanding of USDA’s commitment to protecting the health of the public by providing food safety.

“Having held several leadership roles in USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, he has a proven, and extensive, track record on this key issue.”

The USDA’s under secretary for food safety is the federal government’s top food safety position, responsible for oversight of FSIS along with other duties. The under secretary chairs the U.S. Codex Steering Committee, which provides guidance to U.S. delegations to the Codex Alimentarius Commission.  

The FSIS  is responsible for ensuring the nation’s supply of meat, poultry, and processed egg products is safe and correctly labeled and packaged.

 The under secretary must be selected from among individuals with specialized training or significant experience in food safety or public health programs.

In addition to Brashears, previous under secretaries include Dr. Elisabeth Hagen (August 2010- December 2013), Richard Allen Raymond (July 2005–January 2009), Elsa A. Murano (October 2001–December 2004), and Catherine Woteki (July 1997–January 2001). 

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