FDA failed over
salmonella outbreak, says new chief
of Article: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/FDA-failed-over-salmonella-outbreak-says-new-chief
By Rory Harrington, 27-May-2009
The recent outbreak of salmonella
in the United States caused by contaminated peanut butter represented a
“failure” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency’s new
commissioner said this week as she took up her post.
Margaret Hamburg said the nationwide food
scare, which sickened around 700 and was linked to nine deaths, was
indicative of a systemic failure in the US food safety regime rather
than being merely a “sanitation problem at one troubled facility”.
Dr Hamburg said: “It reflected a failure of
the FDA and its regulatory partners to identify risk and to establish
and enforce basic preventive controls.”
The FDA head was also critical of scores of
food manufacturers that failed “to adequately monitor the safety of
ingredients purchased from this facility”.
Scrutiny of nutritional
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine
with her deputy, Joshua Sharfstein, she indicated the regime surrounding
the scrutiny of nutritional claims of food products would be tightened
“The CDC and the FDA should also work closely
to identify areas of potential progress in nutrition. A laissez-faire
approach to nutritional claims can lead to more confusion than
understanding,” said Dr Hamburg.
‘Working with industry and others, the FDA can
support efforts to educate the public about nutrition and promote more
She declared that under their stewardship the
nation should expect a "modern food-safety system focused on
prevention of contamination".
Dr Hamburg has pledged to restore the
beleaguered agency’s credibility following a string of food
contamination scandals in the US. Underlining this commitment, she said
the FDA should deliver as a public-health agency, and not only serve as
a body that helps the food and drug industry bring products to market.
The FDA had “struggled in recent years to
handle controversies involving the safety of regulated product, opening
the door to legitimate question from the media, the public, and
Congress about whether the public interest is being served,” she