WASHINGTON — James Jones has been selected as the first deputy commissioner for Human Foods at the Food and Drug Administration, effective Sept. 24.
In the newly created executive position, Mr. Jones will lead the charge in setting and advancing priorities for a proposed unified Human Foods Program (HFP), which will be a combination of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR) and certain aspects of the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).
Program areas for the HFP would include food safety, chemical safety and innovative food products, including those from new agricultural technologies, that will support the resilience of the US food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, as well as nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity.
Mr. Jones is currently president of JJonesEnvironmental, where he provides strategic advice to clients on issues related to chemical safety. He also spent more than two years as executive vice president of the Household and Commercial Products Association. The bulk of Mr. Jones’s career, though, was spent with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he worked for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles. At the EPA, he 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.
Mr. 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.
He received 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.
“I’m delighted to welcome Jim to the FDA,” said Robert M. Califf, MD, FDA commissioner. “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. 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.”
In his new role, Mr. Jones will report to Dr. Califf. Once the reorganization is in place, Mr. Jones will have decision-making authority over all HFP entities, including ORA activities. Additionally, 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 CFSAN and the OFPR will report to Mr. 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,” Mr. Jones said. “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. As a former pesticide regulator, I have a deep understanding of the unique needs of government programs involved in upholding safety of the US food supply, as well as the important role that the agriculture community and state partners play in this paradigm. I am honored to serve the FDA and the country in this new capacity.”
Mr. Jones will be supported in his new role by an executive leadership team and work with other FDA executives to ensure priorities are coordinated and advanced. He also will work closely with the ORA on human foods-related activities as well as the Center for Veterinary Medicine activities that have a connection to human foods.
Commenting on Mr. Jones’s appointment, Sarah Gallo, vice president of product policy for the Consumer Brands Association, said the CBA is “eager” to partner with Mr. Jones to transform the agency into one that is “structured, governed and funded for success.”
“Jones embodies the management qualifications the industry and stakeholders have been asking for to ensure FDA can properly deliver on its mission of protecting consumer health and safety,” Ms. Gallo said. “We commend Commissioner Califf on this hire and are encouraged that this is a step toward modernizing the agency so it can move at the speed of the consumer.”
Roberta Wagner, senior vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association, also applauded the appointment.
“Jim’s vast government leadership experience uniquely qualifies him to navigate the transformational change FDA needs to elevate, unify and shape the Human Foods Program for the future,” Ms. Wagner said. “IDFA supports his appointment, and we will look forward to opportunities to work with Jim to prioritize stakeholder engagement and enhance transparency across the FDA’s Human Foods Program.”