for FDA pick: Act on food safety
Source of Article: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/03/14/obamatalks0314.html
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Washington —- President Barack
Obama today is expected to announce a new Food and Drug Administration
commissioner and plans to remake the agency in the wake of the national
salmonella crisis that has its roots in Georgia.
In his weekly address to the nation this morning, Obama plans to announce
the appointment of Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Hamburg, a former New York City
health commissioner, as commissioner of the FDA.
her new role, Hamburg is expected to streamline how the FDA works with
other food safety agencies and also find ways to make sure the FDA responds
more quickly to outbreaks like the nationwide salmonella crisis linked to
Peanut Corp. of America’s plant in Blakely.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a number of problems with the food making
its way to our kitchen tables,” Obama said in prepared remarks in advance
of his weekly Web and radio address.
“In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in
peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led
to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives —- a painful
reminder of how tragic the consequences can be when food producers act
irresponsibly and government is unable to do its job.”
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this
week, Obama said he wanted the federal government to do a better job of
monitoring food processors and find ways to identify potential food safety
problems more quickly.
Along with announcing Hamburg’s appointment, Obama is planning to
announce the formation of a new Food Safety Working Group that will
coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to examine and upgrade
existing food safety laws and coordinate food safety regulation between
He said the government will invest in the FDA to substantially increase
the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs.