September 25, 2023 marks the first day of work for James (Jim) Jones, M.S., the first ever Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The role of Deputy Commissioner was created to build and lead the agency’s new, unified Human Foods Program (HFP).
In his role, 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.
For more than 30 years, Mr. 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. Program areas he will oversee in his new role with FDA 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.
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 FDA’s HFP to the agency in December 2022. The report will help guide the reorganization of the agency and the development of a new HFP led by Mr. Jones.
To commemorate his first day as the Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Mr. Jones issued a staff memo, in which he wrote the following:
As I begin my first day with FDA I wanted to start by saying hello to all of you and share how excited I am to be here. It’s an honor to be stepping into the role of Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, even as the work of building the new Human Foods Program lies ahead. I believe strongly in the vision that Commissioner Califf has set out and know that all of us together will make the vision for a unified foods program a reality.
I came here to lead our transformation into a single program that enhances coordination, prevention and response activities. I am keenly aware of this extraordinary opportunity to modernize and integrate our food safety system and enhance our work to improve nutrition.
Of course, many challenges lay ahead. I will be looking to you for your expertise, ideas, and creativity to build a program that maximizes our collective strengths. Together, CFSAN, OFPR, and ORA will bring the best we have to bear creating a program that surpasses what each has been able to accomplish separately.
I will also be looking for ways to work more effectively with our many stakeholders, leveraging their commitment and energy toward accomplishing our shared goals of a safer and more nutritious food supply.
I look forward to the important work we will do together.