President Barack Obama has announced that he plans to nominate USDA veteran Elisabeth Hagen as his first undersecretary for food safety.

Hagen is the US Department of Agriculture’s chief medical officer, advising the agency on a range of human health issues. Prior to this, she was a senior executive at the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service.

Commenting on the nomination, agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said: “There is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers from harm, which is why food safety is one of USDA’s top priorities.

“We can and must do a better job of ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products regulated by USDA, and Dr. Hagen brings the background, skills, and vision to lead USDA’s efforts.”

Her nomination requires Senate approval.