Mindy Brashears
Photo courtesy of Texas Tech University

President Trump’s nomination of Mindy Brashears as USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety was referred Thursday to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee to begin the confirmation process.

And Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue wasted no time in letting the troops know what’s happening once Brashears takes over USDA’s top food safety post.

Friday Perdue announced Carmen Rottenberg is USDA’s new Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) administrator and Paul Kiecker is FSIS’s new deputy administrator. Until the president named Brashears, Perdue had Rottenberg and Kiecker in temporary top jobs. Rottenberg was serving as acting deputy under secretary for food safety, and Kiecker was holding down FSIS as acting administrator.

“Providing all Americans access to safe and secure food supply is one of USDA’s critical missions,” said Perdue. “Carmen and Paul have been instrumental in carrying out this mission and will continue to lead FSIS in their new roles.”

Carmen Rottenberg

In their temporary positions, Rottenberg and Kiecker did not hesitate in pursuing USDA’s food safety agenda with the media, elected officials and the broader food safety community.

Rottenberg will continue as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety right up to the moment Brashears is confirmed.

Rottenberg, with a Juris Doctorate from American University, has held several top FSIS headquarters jobs, including chief operating officer and chief of staff.

Kiecker has led “mission-critical” programs for FSIS in district and field operations.

Paul Kieker

He and Rottenberg started their temporary leadership jobs in August 2017.

As their new positions were announced by Perdue, Rottenberg, and Kiecker, in turn, announced some changes of their own at FSIS. These include:

  • Hany Sidrak has been selected to be the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Field Operations (OFO). He most recently served as an Executive Associate for Regulatory Operations (EARO) in OFO.
  • Michael Watts will move from Assistant Administrator for the Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training (OOEET) to an EARO position in OFO.
  • Soumaya Tohamy will transition from Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP) to Assistant Administrator for OOEET.
  • David Goldman has accepted a position at the Food and Drug Administration, and Denise Eblen has been selected to serve as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Health Science (OPHS). She comes to FSIS from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture where she led the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition.
  • Karen Becker is the new Director of the FSIS China Office in Beijing. She most recently was the Director of the Applied Epidemiology Staff in OPHS.
  • Todd Furey will be the new District Manager for the Raleigh District Office in OFO. He is currently serving as Acting International Coordination Executive.

Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health who also serves as director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University.   Her confirmation is expected by late summer or early fall.

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