beef

The Obama administration’s highest-ranking food safety official announced Friday that she would resign the office next month, prompting immediate pressure on the president to move swiftly to name a successor.

Elisabeth Hagen, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) undersecretary for food safety, said she would leave the job for a position in the private sector in mid-December.

As undersecretary, Hagen oversaw the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), leading major efforts to tamp down on E. coli and salmonella outbreaks. Under Hagen, the agency pursued strengthened regulations, including a rule proposing mandatory labeling of mechanically tenderized meat.

“USDA and FSIS have successfully made preventing foodborne illness a real priority,” she said in a statement issued by the agency. “The steps we have taken, from modernizing the agency, strengthening oversight of industry and increasing outreach to consumers has led to safer food and fewer foodborne illnesses.”