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Obama's food safety pick surprises consumer advocates

By Ed O'Keefe

Highlights of The Post's food safety reporter Lyndsey Layton's report on Obama's nomination of Elisabeth Hagen to serve as the government's top food safety official:

The Obama administration has had a difficult time filling the post of chief food safety official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it wasn't until this week -- one year into his term -- that the president nominated someone to assume that role. The choice of Elisabeth Hagen, 40, a physician with four years' experience in food safety, surprised food safety advocates, who said they knew little about her.

"Consumer advocates who work closely with [the Department of Agriculture] on policy issues have had limited direct experience with Dr. Hagen," said the Consumer Federation of America, which is part of a group known as the Safe Food Coalition.

...

It is difficult to assess Hagen's positions on policy or the politics of food safety; she hasn't published any papers, articles or books on the topic. Most of her career has been spent teaching and practicing medicine as an infectious disease specialist. She left medicine in 2006 and went to the USDA, where she was quickly promoted through the ranks of the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service to become the chief medical officer last year.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 28, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door  
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