Obama vows to conduct 'complete review' of F.D.A.

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama in a nationally televised interview on Feb. 1 said his administration will be conducting a thorough review of Food and Drug Administration operations to eliminate future lapses in food safety. The vow comes as the F.D.A. works to get a handle on an outbreak of Salmonella that has been traced to a Peanut Corporation of America facility in Blakely, Ga. The subsequent outbreak has sickened more than 500 and resulted in eight deaths, according to the F.D.A.

"Well, I think that the F.D.A. has not been able to catch some of these things as quickly as I expect them to catch," Mr. Obama said in response to a question from "Today" co-host Matt Lauer on whether the F.D.A. is doing its job. "And so we’re going to be doing a complete review of F.D.A. operations. At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter. That’s what Sasha (Mr. Obama’s 7-year-old daughter) eats for lunch probably three times a week. And, you know, I don’t want to have to worry about whether she’s going to get sick as a consequence to having her lunch."

Even as the F.D.A. and other government agencies seek answers in response to the Salmonella outbreak, food and beverage companies continue to broaden product recalls to guard against potential contamination of Salmonella in peanut and peanut butter products. The Kellogg Co., Nature’s Path and Bear Naked were among the companies expanding their product recalls over the weekend.

In the case of Kellogg, although the recalled products do not contain any peanut ingredients from Peanut Corporation of America, they were produced at another company’s facility on the same line as products that were made for other companies using potentially contaminated P.C.A. ingredients. For that reason, Kellogg said the recall was issued "out of an abundance of caution."

Also on Monday, Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing on Thursday titled "Examination of Federal Food Safety Oversight in the Wake of Peanut Products Recall."

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