Consumer Reports Monday announced the appointment of former USDA deputy undersecretary Brian Ronholm as director of food policy for the 80-year old non-profit organization.

“Mr. Ronholm will lead Consumer Reports’ advocacy efforts to advance a safe and healthy food system. He will be based in CR’s Washington D.C. office,” according to the announcement. “Brian brings deep legislative and regulatory experience in food policy to CR.  As deputy under secretary, food safety, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), he provided leadership, management, and oversight of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the public health agency with more than 9,000 employees responsible for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, catfish and processed egg products”

Brian Ronholm

01Ronholm was named by President Barack Obama to serve a deputy undersecretary to  Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, the last person confirmed by the U.S. Senate as USDA’s undersecretary for food safety.    Hagen left the government in December 2013 and Obama did not name a replacement. Instead, he named former FSIS AdminsitratorAl Almanza to serve with Ronholm, also with the title of deputy undersecretary for food safety.

Ronholm and Almanza led USDA food safety until replaced by appointments made byPresident Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Ronholm joined the Obama administration from the congressional office of U.S.Rep. Rosa DeLaura, D-CT,  where he was the agriculture appropriations associate who coordinated food and nutrition programs and funding.

David Friedman, vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said, “We’re excited to welcome Brian to CR. His experience and commitment to making our food system work for consumers will be instrumental in our efforts to build a better marketplace.  People should be able to shop for food with confidence, knowing the products we buy and the systems used to produce them are safe and healthy, and Brian is an ideal leader to drive this critical work at CR.”

 Ronholm said he “is thrilled to be joining Consumer Reports, which has an extraordinary history of science-based advocacy on food issues, and an outstanding reputation as a trusted resource for consumers, policymakers, and industry.  By combining the voices of consumers with the power of CR’s research and testing, we will work for a food system that puts the health and safety of families first. We must work together to reduce foodborne illness rates, ensure that our food systems are safe and transparent and that consumers are informed when making the best choices for themselves and their families.  I’m proud to be joining this team to enhance this legacy and help empower a new generation of consumers.”

Prior to joining CR, Brian most recently served as Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, and he served in the same senior position at Arent Fox LLP.

Ronholm served at USDA from 2011 to 2017. In addition to overseeing FSIS, he chaired the U.S. Codex Policy Steering Committee, an interagency partnership that engages stakeholders in the advancement of science-based international food safety standards to facilitate fair trade, and served as Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF), which provides impartial scientific advice to federal agencies for use in developing integrated food safety systems.

As Agriculture Appropriations Associate for Rep. DeLauro from 2006 to 2011, he managed issues related to the House Agriculture-FDA Appropriations Subcommittee during Rep. DeLauro’s tenure as chair of the subcommittee.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization and consumer’s voice.  It has won protections for safe food and water.  CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. It does not accept advertising or other “commercial influences.”    

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