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Pres. Obama's Weekly Address: 'Reversing a Troubling Trend in Food Safety' new FDA appointments

Pres. Obama's Weekly Address (3/14/09), excerpts from the Blog, White House transcript. The video can be viewed online at www.whitehouse.gov. 'In his weekly address, President Barack Obama announced the appointments of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as Commissioner of the FDA, and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as the Principal Deputy Commissioner, as well as the creation of a new Food Safety Working Group.' A few of Pres. Obama's remarks :

I've often said that I don't believe government has the answer to every problem or that it can do all things for all people. We are a nation built on the strength of individual initiative. But there are certain things that we can'tdo on our own. There are certain things only a government can do. 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. That is the mission of our FDA and it is a mission shared by our Department of Agriculture, and a variety of other agencies and offices at just about every level of government.
The men and women who inspect our foods and test the safety of our medicines are chemists and physicians, veterinarians and pharmacists. It is because of the work they do each and every day that the United States is one of the safest places in the world to buy groceries at a supermarket or pills at a drugstore…
But in recent years, we've seen a number of problems with the food making its way to our kitchen tables. ….
Part of the reason is that many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. It's also because our system of inspection and enforcement is spread out so widely among so many people that it's difficult for different parts of our government to share information, work together, and solve problems. And it's also because the FDA has been underfunded and understaffed in recent years...
That is a hazard to public health. It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg, whom I am appointing today as Commissioner of the [FDA]. …
Their critical work – and the critical work of the FDA they lead – will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Working Group I am creating. This Working Group will bring together cabinet secretaries and senior officials to advise me on how we can upgrade our food safety laws for the 21st century; foster coordination throughout government; and ensure that we are not just designing laws that will keep the American people safe, but enforcing them.... blockquote>
For the New York in the Supra blog, Dr. Hamburg's stellar credentials include serving as Commissioner of Health for the City of New York.

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