The Food Standards Agency's acting chief executive Jon Bell has been appointed to the post permanently.
Bell replaces Geoffrey Podger who became executive director of the European Food Standards Agency, based in Brussels, in February.
Podger had been chief executive of the FSA since its inception in January 2000.
He was previously head of shadow agency the Joint Food Safety and Standards Group. Bell was deputy chief executive of the FSA and director of food safety policy and had been acting chief executive since Podger's departure.
He is also the FSA's chief scientific advisor.
He joined the FSA in 2000, after holding several posts in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, predecessor to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
He worked for MAFF for 25 years and was involved in many areas that are now the responsibility of the FSA.
Announcing the appointment, FSA chairman Sir John Krebs said Bell had a strong track record in food safety and consumer protection, and had made a major contribution to the development and success of the FSA in its first three years.
Bell's appointment has been approved by the Secretary of State for Health Alan Milburn.