Senate confirms Mindy Brashears as undersecretary of food safety


By Dan Flynn, Food Safety News by Marler Clark

March 25, 2020


Mindy Brashears of Texas is the fifth Senate-confirmed undersecretary of food safety. She was confirmed with a voice vote of the U.S. Senate late Monday.


Brashears succeeds Dr. Elizabeth Hagen who stepped down as undersecretary for food safety six years, three months and 11 days ago.


Only four others have held the position, which is the highest food safety job in the U.S. government. The other four were Dr. Hagen August 2010 to December 2013; Dr. Richard A. Raymond July 2005 to January 2009; Elsa A.Murano October 2001 to December 2004; and Catherine Woteki July 1997 to January 2001.


During the lengthy 2,293 day vacancy in the job, the following has occurred;


·         President Barack Obama and former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack did not name a successor to Hagen. Instead, they ended the last 1,134 days of the Obama administration with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Al Almanza also serving as deputy undersecretary for food safety, a job that ordinarily provides oversight to the FSIS administrator.

·         President Donald J. Trump went 470 days without appointing anyone as USDA undersecretary for food safety.

·         The time between when her appointment was submitted by the White House until Monday’s Senate confirmation vote took almost 700 more days.

·         During that time Brashears was twice recommended for nomination by the Senate Agriculture Committee and won widespread support from various stakeholders. However, hers was among dozens of other executive appointments that took a backseat to judicial appointments for the Senate’s time.


Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue got tired after a year of delay and named Brashears as deputy undersecretary for food safety. Just as was done with Almanza, that was a maneuver that did not require Senate confirmation.


In a little over a year as deputy undersecretary, Brashears became part of the threesome running FSIS that also included  Administrator Carmen Rottenberg and Deputy Paul Kiecker.   Together, they made progress with the modernization of hog and poultry inspection options that were more based on pathogen detection rather than observation.


That trio was broken up earlier this month when...


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