Obama vows to improve the FDA

President Barack Obama announced his appointments to the two top posts at the Food and Drug Administration in his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday and promised an increased effort to make sure the country's food is safe.

Saying that the FDA's performance in recent years has been "unacceptable," Obama said Dr. Margaret "Peggy" Hamburg will be his FDA commissioner. Hamburg will be joined by Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, who will serve as principle deputy commissioner.

In the address, Obama highlighted recent food distribution problems. He mentioned the contaminated spinach sold in grocery stores in 2006 and the salmonella outbreak in 2007. And most recently, he noted bad peanut products led to the deaths of nine people.

The FDA has been "underfunded and understaffed," Obama said, "leaving the agency with the resources to inspect just 7,000 of our 150,000 food processing plants and warehouses each year. That means roughly 95% of them go uninspected."

"That is a hazard to public health," Obama added. "It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg."

Before this appointment, Hamburg worked as the vice president for the biological program of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. She has also worked in the Department of Health and Human Services, as New York City's health commissioner and at the National Institute of Health.

Sharfstein comes to the Obama administration after working as Baltimore's health commissioner. In particular, Sharfstein has focused his career on drug safety.

Obama also announced that he is creating a new Food Safety Working Group that will assemble cabinet secretaries and officials to make recommendations on how to improve food safety laws and regulations.

Additionally, the Agriculture Department will close a loophole to make sure diseased cows to make their way into country's food supply, Obama said.

To accomplish these goals, the president vowed to invest a billion dollars into upgrading modernizing testing labs, increasing the number of food inspectors and other support for the FDA.

The president said that, in the end, food safety is an issue that touches every family.

"In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your President, but as a parent," he said. "When I heard peanut products were being contaminated earlier this year, I immediately thought of my 7-year old daughter, Sasha, who has peanut butter sandwiches for lunch probably three times a week. No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch."

Check out the video below.

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