The Food and Drug Administration's reputation has taken a hit over the past few years.
Amid budget cuts, the agency has had its setbacks--numerous foodborne illness outbreaks, including this year's epic salmonella outbreak ultimately tied to jalapeno peppers from Mexico, a pet food poisoning and tainted medicine imported from China. And questions have been raised about its ability to secure our food safety.
The pressure is on for President-elect Obama.
According to an AP article, the FDA has suffered for long periods without a permanent leader and Obama is being urged to quickly appoint an FDA commissioner.
The article says names that have been thrown around for the top post include Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen; Susan Wood, a former director of the FDA's women's health office; and Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's health chief.Food safety will be a priority for Obama's FDA, according to the article. Neera Tanden, a senior campaign adviser, is quoted: "He thinks this is a fundamental role of government to ensure that people's food is safe and he has been concerned that we are not in a position to ensure that." (Michael Pollan will be happy to hear this.)
Issues that are at the forefront are increased inspections of imported food (only a fraction of imports are currently inspected); more visits to foreign drug manufacturing plants; and a tracing system for produce.
William Hubbard, a retired FDA official, says in the article: "An Obama administration would swing the pendulum back more to protection of public health. This bodes well for greater regulation in the food safety area, on imports, and on drug safety."
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.