The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the selection of James (Jim) Jones, M.S. to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, who will lead the charge in setting and advancing priorities for a proposed unified Human Foods Program (HFP). Mr. Jones is scheduled to begin at the FDA on September 24, 2023.

Program areas that the Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods will oversee include food safety, chemical safety, and innovative food products, such as new agricultural technologies, to bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization. His scope will also include nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity. A recently released graphic video provides a high-level overview of FDA’s proposed vision for the unified HFP.

In the role of Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Mr. Jones will report directly to FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. 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 (CFSAN) and Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR) will report to Mr. Jones until the proposed HFP reorganization is implemented.  

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. Mr. Jones will work closely with the ORA on human foods-related activities as well as the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) on activities related to human foods.

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 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. Mr. Jones also led several national sustainability programs, including the EPA’s Environmental Preferable Purchasing Program and the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Challenge.

Mr. Jones was also 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, making him knowledgeable of the agency’s challenges and opportunities. 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.

Advocacy groups Consumer Brands Association (CBA) and Stop Foodborne Illness have expressed their support of FDA’s decision to appoint Mr. Jones as the new Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, lauding his accomplishments with EPA and his involvement with the Reagan-Udall Foundation’s review of FDA’s Human Foods Program. Advisory group the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) has also expressed its support.