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In the wake of President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Elisabeth Hagen as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Food Safety, leaders from the National Turkey Federation (NTF), commended the “long and careful process” undertaken by the agency prior to making the selection, which “signals a continuing commitment to a science-based, risk-based inspection system.”
Joel Brandenberger, president of Washington-based NTF, said Hagen’s experience as a medical doctor, combined with her years of service at USDA, equip her with “the background and training necessary to build on the agency’s successes in enhancing the safety of the food supply and make her well qualified to lead USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service” while further strengthening its public health mission.
Calling food safety a top priority of his agency and affirming that there’s “no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers from harm,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Dr. Hagen’s nomination is in step with his conviction that “[w]e can and must do a better job of ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products regulated by USDA.”
Currently USDA’s chief medical officer, Dr. Hagen serves as an advisor to USDA mission areas on a wide range of human health issues. Before holding her current post, she was a senior executive at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, at which she played a key role in developing and executing 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.
Before joining the federal government in 2006, Hagen taught and practiced medicine in both the private and academic sectors, most recently in Washington, D.C. She holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a B.S. from Saint Joseph’s University. Hagen completed her specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in infectious disease.