In an announcement from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Paul Kiecker has been named the administrator of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The move comes with the departure of Carmen Rottenberg, who served in the role as administrator for almost two years, and is leaving federal service altogether.
“As Administrator, Rottenberg spearheaded efforts to modernize the agency and implemented several key initiatives to target foodborne illness. Through her leadership and oversight, an unprecedented level of collaboration was achieved with federal, state and municipal agencies and other stakeholders,” according to a USDA press release.
Paul Kiecker began serving as deputy administrator for FSIS in May 2018 and was the USDA’s acting administrator until January 2019. He has been at FSIS for 30 years, beginning his career at the agency as a food inspector.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has named Mindy Brashears, Ph.D. as deputy undersecretary for food safety, a position that does not require confirmation by the Senate. She has also been re-nominated for the role of under secretary for food safety, a more senior role that requires Senate confirmation, by President Trump. The President’s initial nomination of Brashears expired in early January and was resubmitted to the Senate in the 116th Congress.
“I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people,” stated Perdue in a USDA news release. The other folks Perdue is referring to are Naomi Earp, nominated as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights and Scott Hutchins, nominated for deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics—both of whom were also nominated for higher roles that require Senate confirmation. “I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place.”
Brashears is a professor of food safety and public health, as well as the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Her research program aims to improve food safety standards that enhance public health. Some of her work has resulted in the commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. Other credentials include leading international research teams in Mexico and Central and South America with the goal of improving food safety and security, along with establishing sustainable agriculture in impoverished regions.
Yesterday Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that the USDA would be halting all imports of fresh beef from Brazil. The USDA has been inspecting all of the meat products entering the United States from Brazil since March, and has refused entry to 11% of fresh beef products. According to an agency press release, this figure is “substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1% of shipments from the rest of the world”. The increased inspection has resulted in refusal of entry to about 1.9 million pounds of Brazilian beef products over concerns related to public health, sanitary conditions and animal health.
“Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.” – Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
The USDA is suspending shipments until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action that the agency finds adequate.
Today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised a trade agreement reached between the United States and China that is allowing the return of American beef to the Chinese market for the first time in 13 years. The ban has been in place since 2003 following a case of mad cow disease. However, China’s domestic cattle population is not keeping up with the increased consumer demand.
“This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community, and the U.S. economy in general. We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, which had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time. I commend the persistence of President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Trade Representative’s officials, and our own USDA professionals. I also thank our Chinese counterparts, who worked so hard to get this agreement into place. When the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll want more of it.” – Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
Under the trade agreement, cooked Chinese poultry may be imported into the United States once issues related to safety and hygiene are addressed.