By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the nation’s decades-old food safety system is a “hazard to public health” and in need of an overhaul, starting with the selection of a new head of the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Obama used his weekly radio and video address to announce the nomination of former New York City Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg as FDA commissioner, and his choice of Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as her deputy.
The president also said he was creating a Food Safety Working Group to coordinate food safety laws throughout government and advise him on how to update them. Many of these laws, essential to safeguarding the public from disease, haven’t been touched since they were written in the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, he said.
Obama said the food safety system is too spread out, making it difficult to share information and solve problems.
He also blamed recent underfunding and understaffing at FDA that has left the agency unable to conduct annual inspections of more than a fraction of the 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses in the country.
“That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg,” Obama pledged.
Read more at Obama announces FDA picks, food safety measures
- Obama talks tainted food, not funds (politico.com)
- Are FDA Scientists Ready for Food Safety Law? (news.sciencemag.org)
- Obama plans to sign food safety law Tuesday — but funding fight just beginning (ajc.com)