Veterinarian confirmed as undersecretary for food safety

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban, a veterinarian, as undersecretary for food safety with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Esteban
Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban

The Senate received the nomination from President Biden on Nov. 15, 2021, and confirmed the nomination on Dec. 22, 2022.

“Dr. Esteban has a deep understanding of USDA’s commitment to protect the health of the public by providing food safety,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. agriculture secretary, in a statement upon Dr. Esteban’s nomination.

According to the statement, Dr. Esteban started his tenure at the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service in 2001 and held the roles of laboratory director for the Western Laboratory, scientific adviser for laboratory services and research coordination, and executive associate for laboratory services.

In August 2018, Dr. Esteban was appointed as chief scientist of the FSIS. In this capacity, according to his USDA biography, he serves as the primary scientific adviser on matters of public health and food safety that affect the mission of the FSIS, with primary responsibility for scientific initiatives within the Office of Public Health Science.

Prior to joining the USDA, Dr. Esteban worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a staff epidemiologist, and an assistant director of the Food Safety Office.

He currently serves as the chair for the Codex Alimentarius Commission Committee on Food Hygiene, which defines standards on food hygiene for international trade.

Dr. Esteban earned his veterinary degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He also has earned an MBA, a master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine, and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California-Davis.

Vilsack said, “As we continue to push forward our commitment to create a safe, sustainable, competitive U.S. food and fiber system, Dr. Esteban’s leadership will be invaluable to our team.”