President Joe Biden has picked a veteran scientist with the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, Jose Emilio Esteban, to serve as the next food safety undersecretary.
The position that Biden plans to nominate him to would give Esteban oversight of the FSIS programs he currently monitors as the agency’s chief scientist. Esteban has been in that position since 2018 and has been with FSIS since 2001.
In a statement, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Esteban has a “deep understanding of USDA’s commitment to protect the health of the public by providing food safety.
“Having held several leadership roles in USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), he has a proven, and extensive, track record on this key issue."
In addition to his chief scientist role, Esteban has also worked in various laboratory roles at FSIS, including executive associate for laboratory services and laboratory director for the western laboratory. He also has experience as an epidemic intelligence service officer, staff epidemiologist and assistant director of the food safety office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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According to the White House, Estaban was trained as a veterinarian in Mexico before pursuing additional schooling, including an MBA and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California, Davis.
The position will require Senate confirmation.
A pair of other USDA nominees – Chavanda Jacobs-Young, picked to be undersecretary for research, education and economics; and Margo Schlanger, selected to be assistant secretary for civil rights – are scheduled for confirmation hearings before the Senate Ag Committee next week.
Robert Bonnie, the Biden administration’s nominee for undersecretary of farm production and conservation, is expected to receive a Senate floor vote next week.