AFS professor takes new role as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
By: Norman Martin
Mindy Brashears, a professor of food microbiology and food safety in Texas Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, and director of the university's International Center for Food Industry Excellence, has been named Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, reports William Brown, Dean of Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources today (April 8). Brashears stepped into the post at the end of January.
"Dr. Brashears is a national and international leader in food safety," Brown said. While in Washington, Brashears will be taking a leave of absence from Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences. She is expected to return to Texas Tech following her USDA service.
Among Brashears' many contributions to science, her program has provided the meat processing industry with validated methods for implementing intervention strategies to control bacterial contamination in the processing plant, he said.
Her international work in Central- and South America has improved food safety and food-borne illness for citizens in those regions.
"Texas Tech University is proud and honored to have one of its top faculty serving in the President's administration," Brown said.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue noted is a press statement that Brashears' position did not require Senate confirmation. Brashears had been nominated by President Donald Trump for the Senate-confirmed position of Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA. While the Senate Agriculture Committee on a bipartisan basis favorably reported the nominee, her nomination expired without receiving confirmation votes by the end of the 115th Congress in early January.
The president has resubmitted her nomination, Perdue said, along with those of Naomi Earp as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Scott Hutchins as Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics to the Senate in the 116th Congress.
"At USDA, we've been engaged in fulfilling our mission without all of our players on the field, so we want to get these strong, qualified leaders in the game," Perdue said. "I want to thank these three for their patience, as their professional lives have been placed on hold for months during their nomination process. Now, they will get to work right away on behalf of the American people. Nevertheless, I urge the Senate to act on their new nominations as quickly as possible, so we can have them in the positions for which they were intended in the first place."
While in her deputy role as selected by Perdue, Brashears will not be serving in an "acting" capacity for the position for which she was nominated, he said. As a result, she will not be able to exercise the functions or powers expressly delegated to the Senate-confirmed positions.
Brashears' research program focuses on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle.
In addition, Brashears, who earned her bachelor's degree in food technology from Texas Tech, leads international research teams to Mexico, Central and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.
"Dr. Brashears is uniquely qualified for this position and will be an impactful member of the administration," said Michael Orth, chairman of Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
CONTACT: William Brown, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or email@example.com
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