- For Immediate Release:
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is announcing the selection of James “Jim” Jones to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. The new executive position will lead the charge in setting and advancing priorities for a proposed unified Human Foods Program (HFP). Program areas would include food safety, chemical safety and innovative food products, including those from new agricultural technologies, that will bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, as well as nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity. Jones is scheduled to begin at the FDA on Sept. 24.
For more than 30 years, Jones has held various positions in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stakeholder community and private industry where he has managed teams and provided strategic planning and thought leadership around issues related to chemical safety and sustainability in the environment. His work has focused on lessening the impact that chemicals and pollution have on the U.S. food supply. At the EPA, he was 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. He also led several national sustainability programs, including the EPA’s Environmental Preferable Purchasing Program and the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Challenge. He is a seasoned leader whose experience managing change initiatives within the federal government will be invaluable as we continue to build a unified HFP.
Notably, Jones was an integral member of the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s Independent Expert Panel for Foods, which submitted a report on the operational evaluation of the FDA’s Human Foods Program to the agency in December 2022. This makes him intimately knowledgeable of the agency’s challenges and opportunities, and the panel’s recommendations that the FDA is adopting in its proposal for a unified HFP. He 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,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “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. I’m looking forward to working with him when he joins us next month.”
In the role of Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Jones will report directly to the FDA Commissioner. He will exercise decision-making authority over all HFP entities when the reorganization is in effect, including related Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) activities. He will provide executive leadership over the entire program as well as over resource allocation, risk-prioritization strategy, policy, and major response activities involving human foods. The leadership for Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and Office of Food Policy and Response will report to Jones until the proposed HFP reorganization is implemented.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods at the FDA. 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,” said Jones. “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. I am honored to serve the FDA and the country in this new capacity.”
The Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods will be supported by an executive leadership team and work closely with other FDA executives to ensure priorities are appropriately coordinated and advanced. He will work closely with the ORA on human foods-related activities as well as the Center for Veterinary Medicine activities that have a nexus to human foods.
The FDA’s proposal for laboratories has also further evolved. Now medical products and specialty labs currently residing in ORA are proposed to be realigned into the Office of Chief Scientist (OCS) – a cross-cutting office that supports the research foundation, science and innovation that underpins the FDA’s regulatory mission. Repositioning ORA’s medical product and specialty labs with other labs currently under OCS, such as those run by the agency’s National Center for Toxicological Research, will form an expansive network that provides cutting-edge scientific and analytical support to the entire FDA portfolio. As previously announced, human and animal food labs currently in ORA will be homed under the unified HFP.
The FDA is also releasing a graphic that provides a high-level overview of the proposed changes to date: Proposal for a Unified HFP.
Further, the agency recently provided additional information about the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs and how its proposed realignment in the HFP’s newly created Office of Food Chemical Safety, Dietary Supplements and Innovation is designed to ensure that the dietary supplements program remains a critical priority for the agency.
The FDA remains committed to keeping the public up to date as the proposal continues to be developed.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
- Veronika Pfaeffle