Biography of Elisabeth Hagen | USDA
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Dr. Elisabeth A. Hagen
Under Secretary for Food Safety
Photo of Elisabeth A. Hagen

Dr. Hagen was sworn-in as Under Secretary for Food Safety on August 20, 2010. She oversees the policies and programs of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA's public health regulatory agency that ensures that the nation's commercial meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled. She is a principal member of the President's Food Safety Working Group.

Under a prevention-first framework, Dr. Hagen has implemented new initiatives and modern management tools to ensure that FSIS is an accountable, high-performing agency with strong employee and stakeholder relationships. Using a "One Team, One Purpose" message, Dr. Hagen highlights the importance of every employee in achieving the Agency's mission of public health protection through foodborne illness prevention.

Dr. Hagen has implemented significant new policies that have enhanced consumer protection, including: zero tolerance for six strains of pathogenic E. coli in raw beef; a common sense 'test and hold' requirement prohibiting food from entering commerce before critical test results are confirmed; tough new performance standards for Salmonella and the first ever performance standard for Campylobacter in poultry; and improved capabilities for tracing contaminated meat.

Under Dr. Hagen's leadership, FSIS published a dynamic five year strategic plan in 2011 that engages employees at all levels and holds the Agency clearly accountable for public health outcomes. FSIS also implemented a comprehensive reform of its data infrastructure and utilization that allows for real time analysis of in-plant data and correlation with public health trends to inform inspection and better prevent illnesses.

Food safety education has received special emphasis at FSIS under Dr. Hagen's direction, and through innovative approaches, the Agency has reached tens of millions of consumers about food safety risks and how to reduce them. In partnership with the Ad Council and HHS, FSIS launched Food Safe Families, the first ever national multi-media food safety ad campaign. FSIS is a government leader in using social and new media platforms, including the award winning, bilingual, 'Ask Karen' mobile app.

Prior to her appointment as Under Secretary, Dr. Hagen served in a number of leadership roles at USDA, including as the department's Chief Medical Officer and in FSIS Office of Public Health Science. Before joining public service, she taught and practiced clinical medicine. Dr. Hagen holds a B.S. in biology from St. Joseph's University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. She is specialty trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases.