Aug 25, 2023
New top food official EPA veteran who served on HFP evaluation panel

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new top food official served on a panel that evaluated the agency’s Human Food Program last December.

James Jones, who has held various positions at the EPA for 30 years, was named the FDA’s first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods on Aug. 23 as part of an ongoing restructuring of the agency’s Human Foods Program.

Jones will have oversight of all budget and resource allocations for the HFP. He will direct program areas including food safety, chemical safety and innovative food products, including those from new agricultural technologies, according to an FDA statement.

Jones will begin his new role on Sept. 24.

In February, the FDA announced sweeping changes to counter criticism of its organizational structure in a report from the Reagan-Udall Foundation, a group tied to but separate from the FDA, which called for an overhaul of the agency’s leadership and culture.

Jones served as a member of the foundation’s Independent Expert Panel for Foods.

In June, the FDA announced Office of Regulatory Affairs functions would be merged into the HFP.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods at the FDA,” Jones said in the statement. “I had the pleasure of serving on the expert panel that provided operational recommendations for the FDA’s foods-related activities, and I now look forward to helping the agency realize its vision for the proposed Human Foods Program, including carrying out important nutrition initiatives to improve the health of our country.”

At the EPA, Jones managed teams and provided strategic planning and thought leadership focused on lessening the impact that chemicals and pollution have on the U.S. food supply. He served as a principal architect of the 2016 overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act, the first update of that statute in more than 40 years. He was also responsible for decision-making related to the regulation of pesticides and commercial chemicals.

“As a former pesticide regulator, I have a deep understanding of the unique needs of government programs involved in upholding safety of the U.S. food supply, as well as the important role that the agriculture community and state partners play in this paradigm,” Jones said.

Jones also led several national sustainability programs, including the EPA’s Environmental Preferable Purchasing Program and the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Challenge.

Jones holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland.

“I’m delighted to welcome Jim to the FDA. His impressive career, extensive leadership experience, and passionate vision for the future of the Human Foods Program make him an ideal selection for this pivotal position,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said. “Our proposed reorganization is the largest undertaking of its kind in recent history for our agency. I’m confident that under Jim’s leadership, we will build a stronger organization that will be integrated with other components of the FDA and focused on keeping the foods we regulate safe and nutritious, while ensuring the agency remains on the cutting edge of the latest advancements in food science and nutrition.”

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