FDA Names First Deputy Commissioner for the Unified Human Foods Program

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration selected James “Jim” Jones to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods.

Jones will lead the charge in setting and advancing priorities for a proposed unified Human Foods Program (HFP), announced the FDA.

Human Foods Program areas would include food safety, chemical safety, and innovative food products, including those from new agricultural technologies, that will bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, as well as nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity.

Jones is scheduled to begin at the FDA on Sept. 24.

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.

At the EPA, Jones 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.

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

Notably, Jones was 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.

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This makes him intimately knowledgeable of the agency’s challenges and opportunities, and the panel’s recommendations that the FDA is adopting in its proposal for a unified HFP.

“I’m delighted to welcome Jim to the FDA. His impressive career, extensive leadership experience, and passionate vision for the future of the Human Foods Program make him an ideal selection for this pivotal position,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D.

“Our proposed reorganization is the largest undertaking of its kind in recent history for our agency. I’m confident that under Jim’s leadership, we will build a stronger organization that will be integrated with other components of the FDA and focused on keeping the foods we regulate safe and nutritious while ensuring the agency remains on the cutting edge of the latest advancements in food science and nutrition. I’m looking forward to working with him when he joins us next month,” Califf added.

In the role of Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, Jones will report directly to the FDA Commissioner. He will exercise decision-making authority over all HFP entities when the reorganization is in effect, including related Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) activities.

Jones 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 of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the Office of Food Policy and Response will report to Jones until the proposed HFP reorganization is implemented. 

“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the first Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods at the FDA. I had the pleasure of serving on the expert panel that provided operational recommendations for the FDA’s foods-related activities, and I now look forward to helping the agency realize its vision for the proposed Human Foods Program, including carrying out important nutrition initiatives to improve the health of our country,” said Jones.

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.

For her part, Natalie Dyenson, Chief Food Safety and Regulatory Officer of the International Fresh Produce Association said: “IFPA is thrilled with the appointment of Jim Jones as Deputy Commissioner, Human Foods Program. We look forward to collaborating with the new Deputy Commissioner in a meaningful way as he works towards focusing on risk-based prevention strategies as part of a consistent and coordinated agenda for the agency.”