WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture decided on Nov. 12 to nominate Jose Emilio Esteban, DVM, for the position of undersecretary for food safety.

Esteban has worked in several roles at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Since 2018, he has held the position of chief scientist at the FSIS. Esteban has worked with the agency since 2001.

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

Before joining the USDA, Esteban worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an epidemic intelligence service officer, staff epidemiologist, and assistant director of the food safety office.

He serves as the chair of the Codex Alimentarius Commission Committee on Food Hygiene. This committee helps define food hygiene standards for international trade. Esteban also works as vice president of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP).

Dr. Esteban trained as a veterinarian in Mexico. He holds an MBA, a master’s degree in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, and a PhD in Epidemiology from University of California, Davis.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) released a statement of approval for the choice.

“Dr. Esteban is well respected and well qualified to lead the food safety mission at the Department,” said Julie Anna Potts president and chief executive officer of NAMI. “A veterinarian and an epidemiologist with decades of experience at USDA, Esteban is uniquely qualified to ensure sound science drives food safety and public health decision-making. We urge a swift Senate confirmation to ensure Dr. Esteban can assume this critical role without further delay.”

The food safety undersecretary position was previously held by Mindy Brashears, PhD.