Feb 7, 2002 (CIDRAP News) Merle D. Pierson, PhD, a food microbiologist from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI), has been appointed by Agriculture Secretary Anne M. Veneman as deputy under secretary for food safety in the US Department of Agriculture.
Pierson is internationally recognized for his work with hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) systems and research on the reduction and control of foodborne pathogens, according to Veneman's announcement. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 journal articles and five books on food safety.
Pierson served as a professor of food microbiology at VPI before his appointment. During his tenure there, he served as head of the Department of Food Science and Technology from 1985 to 1994 and as acting superintendent of the Center for Seafood Extension and Research from 1992 to 1994. He has been a consultant to food processing, chemical, and biotechnology companies on HAACP development, food safety management, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and strategic planning, according to information on the VPI Web site.
From 1990 to 1997, Pierson was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. He has been involved in various capacities with the Codex Alimentarius Commission B, an international body that seeks to protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in international food trade through the use of food standards and codes of practice.
Pierson is a South Dakota native who earned his BS degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University and his PhD degree in food science from the University of Illinois.
USDA news release about Pierson's appointment