Jose Emilio Esteban, a food scientist and longtime veteran of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, was sworn in as Undersecretary for Food Safety this week.
Esteban; “We have one of the world’s safest and strongest food safety systems, and I intend to maintain and enhance that status.”
The former veterinarian, CDC epidemiologist, and FSIS science chief told the Senate Ag Committee that collaboration will be key. “The challenges that we face today in food safety are not simple. They’re very, very complex. And so, we need to include everybody in this effort.”
From local producers to distributors and exporters, to other federal agencies, heading off outbreaks before they spread.
“By working together with our APHIS colleagues, we are every day at the slaughter plants, and the processing establishments, our veterinarians are in the field. Of our 8,800 employees, about 7,700 of them are in the field.”
They’re doing things like checking animals for disease. But will that stop those with BSE from entering the U.S.? Nebraska Senator Deb Fisher; “And you’re looking at a situation with possible BSE coming into the United States. Think of the hardship on producers but also the huge economic impact on the United States economy if we would have to shut down.”
Asked by Fisher if USDA was checking plants in Brazil for possible BSE after a case there, Esteban said he’d have to look into it.