Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety: Who Is Brian Ronholm?

  • May 27, 2014

By Steve Straehley

Brian E. Ronholm was named acting under secretary for food safety in the Department of Agriculture in December 2013 after the departure of Elisabeth Hagen, who went to work for Deloitte. Ronholm is responsible for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which is tasked with ensuring that the nation’s meat, poultry and egg products are safe.

Ronholm, a native of the San Francisco Bay area, was born in 1967 and attended Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay), graduating with a B.S. in finance in 1990. He later earned an M.A. in public policy management from George Washington University in 1996.

Ronholm came to Washington in 1993 to work as a legislative policy analyst for the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, concentrating on public health issues. In 2006, he joined the staff of Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Connecticut) as an agriculture appropriations associate. The legislation he worked on included the 2008 Farm Bill, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, and the Food Safety Modernization Act

Ronholm left for the executive branch in April 2011 as deputy under secretary for food safety. When Hagen left in 2013, Ronholm took over the top food safety position. Some in the food industry expect that post to be filled on a permanent basis by someone with more of a health, rather than political, background.

Ronholm and his wife, Michelle, a personal trainer, have one son, Nicholas.


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