Peanuts for Obama

About President Barack Obama's first press conference...

From Washington Post:

Rather than engage in a spirited dialogue with members of the press corps, Obama filibustered. After an eight-minute opening statement, he got through only 13 questions in an hour -- and allowed no follow-up questions. His answers were an oddly unexciting combination of familiar talking points and wonky dissertations. It wasn't particularly good TV, and it wasn't necessarily what Obama needed, either...

I would give the president a "B+" for at least answering some hard questions on the economy. Maybe I would also give his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, extra credit for making the rounds on the morning cable shows today to peddle the White House's upcoming website, http://www.recovery.gov, which will be "part of an unprecedented effort to root out waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary spending in our government." But I digress for now...

If I had a chance to ask President Obama a question last night, it would certainly not have anything to do with Alex Rodriquez and steroids (why did you ask that question????).

My question: Mr President, do you promise that the next FDA commissioner will hold companies accountable for the safety of their products being sold to the American people?

Because of the "surprising" departure of Tom Daschle, the search for the new head of the Food and Drug Administration is being put on hold.

From Reuters:

..."In general, the Daschle mess slows everything down ... it has frankly really made a mess of all the appointments," said Capital Alpha Partners health care analyst Kim Monk.

On Friday, the White House said it planned to announce a new FDA commissioner in the next few days. But many FDA watchers have said a nominee is not likely until an HHS secretary is confirmed.

Many are eager for new leadership at the FDA, which regulates products that make up roughly a quarter of the nation's economy and has been hammered by a string of safety issues, from the withdrawal of Merck & Co Inc's Vioxx painkiller to the current salmonella outbreak from tainted peanuts...

While some people are concerned about dumb athletes and the choices they make in their personal lives, our food system is silently killing Americans, unbeknownst to them. Is it me, or does there seem to be more salmonella outbreaks that usual in recent years? Well, I say there is no coincidence to this issue. The latest outbreak - peanuts - started in a Georgia factory, where workers knew that their product was tainted and didn't bother to tell anyone.

Did you know that this is just business as usual in the corporate food world and the FDA? Food producers are not necessarily required (in practice) to tell the FDA that their products are crap. You did know that, right?

At least someone in Washington is keeping it real...

From Hartford Courant:

...While innocent people continued to get sick from contaminated peanut butter, the case lingered in jurisdictional limbo between the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, causing critical delays. And when the salmonella's source was finally identified, FDA officials had to wait for industry approval before they could go live with the recall. That is not how a fully functioning regulatory agency is supposed to operate.

To truly fix inherent problems in our food safety system, we must fundamentally restructure the food safety bureaucracy at the FDA. Today, food safety is divided among multiple, separately managed units at the FDA — the Office of the Commissioner, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, the field force (Office of Regulatory Affairs) and the National Center for Toxicological Research. As a result, there is no one single individual to be held accountable for food safety at the FDA or anywhere else at the federal level.

Separating food safety regulation from drug and device approvals would go a long way toward restoring the balance that has long been missing at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and give food safety the attention it deserves. By establishing a Food Safety Administration within Health and Human Services, headed by its own commissioner, we can give food safety experts and researchers the room and the resources to do their jobs...

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At Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:14:00 PM, Anonymous Nishi said...

Talia, you know Mr Hope and Change ain't going to do anything about the safety of our food. Didn't you know: change you CAN'T believe in.


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