James (Jim) Jones joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2023 as the agency's first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. In this position, he leads the charge in setting and advancing priorities for a proposed, unified Human Foods Program, which includes food safety, chemical safety, and nutrition activities. He currently oversees the leadership of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR), until the proposed Human Foods Program reorganization is implemented.

Jones came to FDA with intimate knowledge of the Human Foods program, having served on the Reagan-Udall Foundation's Independent Expert Panel that evaluated the program in 2022. He has decades of leadership experience and a track record of forging partnerships among diverse stakeholders and achieving dynamic results to improve public health. He previously served as a federal regulator of pesticides, toxic substances, chemical safety, and pollution prevention at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and made public health-based decisions grounded in sound science, public policy, and law. He was also a principal architect of the 2016 overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act and led several national-level sustainability programs, including the Environmental Preferable Purchasing Program and the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Challenge. 

From 2017–2020, Jones worked for the Household and Commercial Products Association as Executive Vice President for Strategic Alliances and Industry Relations. He then ran his own company advising clients on issues related to chemical safety and sustainability. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Android

In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak with Jim [23:20] about:

  • How his past experiences reviewing FDA’s Human Foods Program with the Reagan-Udall Foundation and working at EPA prepared him for his new role at FDA
  • The importance of stakeholder engagement from the very beginning of decision-making processes
  • The value and takeaways of the field tours that Jim has been making at industry and agency sites across the country
  • How the work being conducting at FDA laboratories ties into FDA’s broader Human Foods Program goals
  • The role of public interest entities in keeping the system honest and ensuring transparency, and the need for all stakeholder groups to collaborate with FDA to represent their interests
  • Jim and FDA's collaboration with the FDA Foods Coalition, which was formed in October 2023 by a diverse group of stakeholders to advocate for an effective Human Foods Program
  • The emerging patchwork of state regulations on food additives, and FDA’s desire to get ahead of state regulations with a more ambitious chemical safety agenda
  • How the proposed Office of Food Chemical Safety, Dietary Supplements, and Innovation will handle chemical safety assessments in the future
  • Recent public health events caused by the contamination of certain foods for infants and young children, and FDA's work with manufacturers of these foods to ensure food safety and maintain supply volumes
  • FDA's Closer to Zero initiative to reduce heavy metals in baby foods and recent state bills that would require routine testing of baby foods by manufacturers, and how these legislative moves could be helpful to FDA
  • The Food Safety Summit Town Hall on May 9, 2024, in Rosemont, Illinois, where Jim will participate as part of a panel of top food safety regulators and advisors including USDA, CDC, and AFDO.

News and Resources:

Missouri, Washington Introduce Bills to Ban Same Food Additives as California Food Safety Act [5:11]

California Bill Looks to Ban Artificial Dyes, Titanium Dioxide From Foods Served in Public Schools [5:52]

Pennsylvania is Latest State to Introduce Food Additives Legislation, While Kentucky Urges FDA to Take Control [6:14]

USDA Scientists Working on Method to Give Hens Ability to Pass on Salmonella Immunity to Chicks [10:50]

Researchers Develop Hygienic Coating for Produce Storage Containers That Repels Bacteria, Fungi, Dirt [14:57]

FDA to Engage With Stakeholders on Direction of New Era of Smarter Food Safety via Day-Long Virtual Event [17:49]

Ep. 162. Brian Sylvester: How the California Food Safety Act is Shaping U.S. Food Additives Regulation

Register for the 2024 Food Safety Summit!

Taking place May 6–9, 2024 in Rosemont, Illinois. Register before March 31 for a 10% early bird discount rate, plus use promo code “FSMatters15” for an extra 15% off registration. Yes, that’s a total discount of 25%!

Sponsored by:

We Want to Hear from You!

Please send us your questions and suggestions to podcast@food-safety.com