March 14, 2009 / 10:03 AM / 8 years ago

Obama picks FDA chief, creates new safety panel

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama chose former New York City health chief Margaret Hamburg to run the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Saturday and launched a new panel to examine and upgrade food safety laws.

The president also outlined measures to prevent meat from diseased cows from entering the food supply and promised to increase the number of FDA food inspectors and modernize food safety labs.

"Protecting the safety of our food and drugs is one of the most fundamental responsibilities government has," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Hamburg will take over an agency stung by a deadly salmonella outbreak and a series of drug safety problems over the past several years.

The president selected Baltimore Health Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein to be her principal deputy.

Reporting by Jeff Mason

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