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Obama Appoints New Leadership at FDA

President Obama has been busy working on the unenviable task of fixing the U.S. economy. While that fiasco has been largely a reactive effort, the president is trying to be more proactive by addressing another issue before something equally devastating happens in the food industry.

Obama selects Margaret Hamburg to head FDA.

Obama selects Margaret Hamburg to head FDA.

So, Obama has announced the nomination of former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as FDA commissioner. He’s also selected Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as her deputy. The president believes that the food safety system in the U.S. is a “hazard to public health,” and is in bad need of revision.

Obama cited a string of food safety problems in recent years. Some examples include contaminated spinach in 2006, salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes last year; and this year, a massive salmonella outbreak in peanut products which sickened more than 600 people and is suspected of causing nine deaths.

The peanut recall was one of the largest in U.S. history, and food contamination cases have tripled since the ’90s.

Underfunding and understaffing at the FDA has left the agency unable to conduct annual inspections at nearly enough of the 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses in the country.

Hamburg’s appointment requires Senate confirmation, while Sharfstein does not.

(via: USA Today)

March 16th, 2009

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