WASHINGTON – President Obama on Saturday unveiled a plan to form a Food Safety Working Group to focus on reforming food safety laws and said he would seek $1 billion to add food safety inspectors and upgrade testing laboratories.
As expected, he also named Margaret A. Hamburg as the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and Joshua Sharfstein as deputy commissioner. Obama used his Saturday morning radio address to make the announcements.
“There are certain things that only a government can do,” he said. “And one of those things is ensuring that the foods we eat, and the medicines we take, are safe and don't cause us harm.”
Grocery Manufacturers Association here issued a statement in support of the moves: “The FDA is America’s food safety watch dog and the president’s appointment of these two prominent public health professionals is a clear signal that this administration has placed a priority on bolstering FDA’s food safety role. In addition, we support the president’s creation of a White House Food Safety Working Group to facilitate better coordination among federal agencies as well as to review and improve the nation’s food safety laws.”
Hamburg was an assistant director of health during the Clinton administration, and has had an extensive career in public health that also included serving as health commissioner of New York City. She made her mark seeking to combat the spread of infectious diseases. If confirmed, she would succeed Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, who left the position in January with the arrival of the new administration.
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