WASHINGTON —Undersecretary of Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen announced Nov. 15 that she is stepping down from her U.S. Department of Agriculture post to take on a new role in the private sector beginning in mid-December. She has held the position since Aug. 20, 2010.

“I am grateful to Secretary Vilsack for the opportunity to serve as Undersecretary for Food Safety and be part of his leadership team,” Dr. Hagen said. “I also want to thank the dedicated public servants of F.S.I.S. for their tireless work in protecting the public health; it has been an honor to serve with them. I’ve had the pleasure of serving F.S.I.S. in a career capacity as well as Undersecretary, so I know full well their commitment to protecting public health.

“It has been an ambitious three years. U.S.D.A. and F.S.I.S. have successfully made preventing foodborne illness a real priority. The steps we have taken, from modernizing the agency, strengthening oversight of industry and increasing outreach to consumers has led to safer food and fewer foodborne illnesses.”

Prior to her appointment as Undersecretary, Dr. Hagen held a number of leadership roles at the U.S.D.A., including as the department’s chief medical officer and in F.S.I.S. Office of Public Health Science. Before joining public service, she taught and practiced clinical medicine. Dr. Hagen holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Joseph’s University and a doctorate from Harvard Medical School. She is specialty trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack thanked Ms. Hagen for her “hard work and sound leadership of the thousands of employees at the Food Safety and Inspection Service.”

“Under Dr. Hagen’s leadership, U.S.D.A. adopted a new zero-tolerance policy for additional strains of E. coli in beef and adopted new standards to protect Americans from Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry,” Mr. Vilsack said. “She also spearheaded the effort to develop a new Public Health Information System to better inform consumers about proper food handling and food safety, to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. I’m proud of our record under the Obama administration to ensure a safe food supply for Americans, and Undersecretary Hagen has played a key role in those efforts. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”