On December 23, the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Jose Emilio Esteban as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) sixth Under Secretary for Food Safety. The action came on the last day before the 177th Congress expired.

President Biden nominated Esteban as the nation’s sixth Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA on November 15, 2021. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry was tasked with reviewing the nomination, but it did not give Esteban a hearing until September 27, 2022. The office remained vacant while waiting for the Senate to act.

Dr. Esteban started his tenure at USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in 2001 and held the roles of laboratory director for the Western Laboratory, scientific advisor for laboratory services and research coordination, and executive associate for laboratory services. In 2018, he was appointed chief scientist of FSIS. In his role, Dr. Esteban provides scientific advice to support agency policies including the disciplines of microbiology, chemistry, and pathology. Prior to joining USDA, Dr. Esteban worked at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an epidemic intelligence service officer, staff epidemiologist, and assistant director of the Food Safety Office.

He currently serves as the chair for the Codex Alimentarius Commission Committee on Food Hygiene, the committee where international food hygiene standards are defined for international trade. He is also currently vice president of the International Association for Food Protection. Trained as a veterinarian in Mexico, Dr. Esteban supplemented his training with an MBA, a master’s degree in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, and a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from University of California, Davis.