US government officials reported on July 10 that Elsa Murano, a microbiologist at Texas A&M University, has been nominated by President George W. Bush to be the top US food safety official. The choice of Elsa Murano was approved by consumer groups and meat industry representatives, as she is an expert on foodborne illnesses. If confirmed by the US Senate, Murano will oversee the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service and deal with various issues from mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease to genetically engineered crops and foodborne illnesses. "She comes to us with a wealth of knowledge," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman told reporters at a news conference. "I think she will be a great member of our team." Elsa Murano is currently the director of Texas A&M's Center for Food Safety in College Station, Texas. She is also on the USDA's National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection, which provides advice and recommendations to the agriculture secretary. "Professor Murano has the capacity to continue the recent progress in reducing the organisms that cause foodborne illness and advancing the public health functions of FSIS," said Carol Tucker Foreman, food safety specialist with the Consumer Federation of America. According to Veneman, the food safety priorities include making sure the country's meat inspection systems are "flexible, adaptable and science-driven." One of Murano's responsibilities will be to build consumer and industry coalitions to strengthen food-safety protections already in place. Murano's nomination fills one of the last high-level vacancies at the USDA.