October 23, 2018

Consumer Federation of American Comments on Dr. Hagen’s Resignation

usdaartConsumer Federation of America (CFA) is commenting on the resignation of Dr. Elisabeth Hagen from the USDA. They say that Dr. Hagen’s departure is a loss to the public.

The position of Under Secretary for Food Safety was created in 1994 when Congress found that USDA did not recognize the threat of pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter. That action separated food safety from agricultural marketing within the USDA. the Under Secretary is charged with protecting public health.

Christopher Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute for CFA, said in a statement, “Dr. Hagen, a Harvard Medical School graduate with specialized training in infectious disease, brought a new level of respect to the position. Under her leadership the USDA declared that any ground beef contaminated with six less well known but equally dangerous strains of pathogenic E. coli bacteria is adulterated and can’t be sold. She guided the development of a brand-new performance standard for Campylobacter in raw poultry and updated the existing Salmonella standard.” Dr. Hagen also proposed labeling of mechanically tenderized meat, which can be a source of E. coli O157:H7 illness.

CFA wants to see President Obama to quickly identify and appoint a successor who is equally well qualified and has a commitment to the primary purposes of the meat and poultry inspection laws. Since Dr. Hagen wasn’t sworn in until August 2010, more than eighteen months after the President took office, the CFA wants him to act more quickly this time.

 

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