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GMA Statement Regarding President Obama’s Nomination of FDA Commissioner

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued the following statement from its president and CEO, Pamela G. Bailey, in response to President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), his nomination of Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, and his formation of a White House Food Safety Working Group:

“We applaud President Obama for his selection of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as the next FDA Commissioner. Dr. Hamburg is a dedicated public health professional who has the knowledge, expertise and experience to lead the agency at this critical time. Likewise, we are pleased with the President’s selection of Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, as FDA Principal Deputy.

“The FDA is America’s food safety watch dog and the President’s appointment of these two prominent public health professionals is a clear signal that this Administration has placed a priority on bolstering FDA’s food safety role. In addition, we support the President’s creation of a White House Food Safety Working Group to facilitate better coordination among federal agencies as well as to review and improve the nation’s food safety laws.

“Our 21st century food supply is extremely complex, and it is time to reform, modernize and strengthen our food safety approach to keep pace with that complexity. That is why GMA has long supported fundamental changes that will bolster our food safety net, prevent incidents before they occur and that will also protect consumers and bolster their confidence in the safety and security of the food they eat.

“It is imperative that we provide FDA with the resources it needs to increase food safety inspections, to hire and retain scientific experts and to bolster its laboratory and information technology capabilities. In addition, we are seeking new authorities for FDA that will enhance the agency’s oversight role as well as require every food company to have a comprehensive food safety plan in place.

“There are two critical elements of our food safety system. First, because consumer confidence is the foundation of everything we do, manufacturers take food safety very seriously and invest their reputations and resources in producing safe products. Second, strong government oversight is a critical and necessary part of our nation’s food safety net. Both industry and government have unique and important roles to play when it comes to food safety.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Obama Administration and the United States Senate and House to enact meaningful reforms that will enhance the FDA’s watch oversight role, as well as put into place additional reforms that keep our food safe.”