One of the FDA’s top food safety administrators is retiring.

Susan Mayne, Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), announced Monday that she will retire as of May 31. The Center is part of the Food and Drug Administration’s food program and is responsible for part of the agency’s food safety work.

Mayne has served as director of the Center for the past eight and a half years. Before joining the FDA as director of CFSAN, she worked for nearly three decades as a teacher and researcher focused on the health consequences of diet and nutrition at Yale University. At Yale, she held an endowed chair as the C.E.A. Winslow Professor of Epidemiology, and her career there included two distinguished leadership positions: Chair of the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Associate Director of the Yale Cancer Center, where her work spanned from the molecular to the population level. Her research publications have been cited more than 17,000 times. 

Mayne has been one of the longest-serving — and only female — CFSAN directors.

In her resignation letter, Mayne gave a nod to current efforts by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf to try to reorganize the food side of the agency. Those efforts have come under fire with detractors saying Califf’s plan does not provide a clear, in-line chain of command involving CFSAN and other aspects of the agency’s human foods program.

“While the Center has evolved to a new level of performance and delivery over the past 8 years, it was necessary that FDA look critically at the broader foods program structure, to reduce redundant operations, increase efficiencies, and make optimal utilization of our field resources. The Commissioner’s proposal will address these issues, enabling the transition to an even better Human Foods Program for the future, which I strongly support,” Mayne says in her resignation letter.  

“As we enter this new phase, I have decided that it is time for me to pass the leadership baton to a new generation of leaders who can commit to implementing the Commissioner’s vision in the coming years.”

In a letter accepting Mayne’s resignation, FDA Commissioner Califf pointed to some of her accomplishments: she has overseen, led, and played a key role in the issuance of nine foundational rules and nearly 70 guidances to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011; under her leadership, CFSAN updated nutrition facts labeling, including added sugars for the first time; determined that industrially produced transfats are not generally recognized as safe and thus cannot be added to foods; implemented menu labeling requirements; and issued sodium reduction targets for industry to improve the healthfulness of the U.S. food supply.

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