U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today, November 15, the resignation of Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, effective in mid-December.

Food safety chief to resign from USDAAccording to the announcement, Dr. Hagen will pursue an opportunity in the private sector, where she served prior to her appointment at USDA. Dr. Hagen has led USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service since August 2010.  

“Thanks to Elisabeth Hagen's hard work and sound leadership of the thousands of employees at the Food Safety and Inspection Service, America’s meat, poultry and processed eggs are safer for Americans. 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,” said Vilsack. “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. 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.”

Both NCBA and the American Meat Institute recognized Dr. Hagen for her commitment to working with stakeholders on food safety issues.

“Upon her announced departure from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we want to thank Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen for her work and efforts in the area of food safety,” said NCBA President Scott George. “Her biggest strength was her ability to working with stakeholders to continually improve the safety of meat and poultry products and educate consumers on the importance of their role in food safety. Her position as Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA is vital to cattle producers and consumers alike in its oversight of the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and we hope USDA will work quickly to identify the appropriate person to lead the agency with her departure.”

AMI President Patrick Boyle said, “We thank Dr. Hagen for her commitment to ensuring the safety of the U.S. meat and poultry supply. During her tenure as Under Secretary, we have appreciated the open dialogue she has maintained with us about critical issues and while we haven’t always agreed on policies, we’ve shared a common goal:  to maintain the United States’ role as producer of the safest meat and poultry supply in the world.  We wish her the best in her new role.”