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Obama Announces FDA Picks, Promises to Improve Food Safety

Obama: "We Are Strengthening Our Food Safety System"

Since taking office, President Obama has wasted no time addressing the food safety concerns that have been on the minds of many American consumers. Not only does the long-awaited COOL food labeling law finally take effect today, but over the weekend the president vowed to improve public health under his administration. In addition to introducing two new FDA commissioners, he also announced a plan of action to drastically improve food safety in America.

First, the president, who called the current state of government inspections "unacceptable" and "a hazard to public health," formed a new Food Safety Working Group. The special FDA task force will focus on reviewing, updating, and enforcing food safety laws, which he declared "have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt."

The FDA improvements will entail more cash — one billion dollars, to be specific. Obama described the FDA as "underfunded and understaffed" and said the government will increase the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs. Additionally, the US Agriculture Department will be taking further action to prevent diseased cows from entering the food supply: "Downer cattle" — those that cannot walk — will be banned from slaughter. The president closed by saying:

"Food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent. Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has, and, with the outstanding team I am announcing today, it is a responsibility that I intend to uphold in the months and years to come."

Given the issues with contamination in spinach, jalapeños, milk, and peanut butter in the past year, I think Obama made a smart decision to address food safety concerns so early in his administration. Do you think these measures will be enough to keep consumers safe?


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