viernes, 15 de mayo de 2009

FDA nominee pledges to revamp food safety

Dr. Margaret Hamburg nomination is aimed at facing new challenges in food safety

President Barack Obama's pick to oversee food and drug safety pledged on Thursday to revamp protection of the nation's food supply to help prevent future disease outbreaks.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg, a bioterrorism expert who once served as New York City health commissioner, breezed through her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, with no senators expressing opposition.

Hamburg, 53, said she wants to restore public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration by putting science first and running an open and accountable operation.

If confirmed, Hamburg's most immediate task will be to oversee development of a vaccine for the new swine flu. But she said food safety will be her major ongoing project.

"The agency is facing a range of new and daunting challenges," Hamburg told senators. "These include the globalization of food and drug production, the emergence of new and complex medical technologies, and the risk of adulteration or deliberate terror attacks on our food and drug supplies."

Turning to food safety, Hamburg said it will require sustained effort, more money, and stronger laws to improve the situation. She wants to shift from chasing outbreaks after they have broken out to preventing them first. That would require all food companies to follow written safety plans, overseen by federal and state inspectors. Traceability and import safety — weak links in the system — would have to be strengthened.

Obama's budget, released Thursday, calls for a $260-million increase for the FDA's food safety program. Past budget cuts have hit the food inspection program hard, and part of the new funding would go to rebuild the ranks of inspectors.
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Aporte : Alejandra Lavín

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