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Champions of Health & Fitness 2010

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Food Safety Superstar: Margaret A. Hamburg, MD

Double degrees from Harvard (undergrad and med school). A successful run as the youngest-ever New York City health commissioner. A spot as the second female FDA commissioner in history. Impressed? So are we. But we're even more inspired by the healthy strides Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, has made since last May, when President Obama appointed her to head the FDA. Thanks to Dr. Hamburg, the food in your shopping cart is getting safer and healthier.

Foodborne illness, including E. coli in cookie dough and salmonella in ground beef, peanuts, and alfalfa sprouts, was all over the news last year. In response, Dr. Hamburg is turning food safety inside out -- in a good way. "We've seen the consequences of having a reactive system. We wait for people to get sick and then try to track down the source," she explains.

The result: There are an estimated 76 million cases of foodborne illnesses in the United States every year, according to the CDC. Dr. Hamburg is focusing on prevention by requiring manufacturers to have more safety strategies in place. She's looking especially closely at the points where foods are most likely to be contaminated along the supply chain, from farm to fork.

Additionally Dr. Hamburg is making it easier to find healthy foods at the supermarket. "Busy shoppers don't have time to sort through the information. Nutrition facts need to be more accessible and more visual," she says. Change is long overdue: Nutrition labels on processed foods have not been significantly addressed since they were mandated 20 years ago. Her first steps? Exploring more-informative front-of-package labeling while cracking down on misleading health claims. "We know we need to do more," Dr. Hamburg says. She's off to a flying start.

-- Bethany Gumper

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shell813@gmail.com wrote:

What a great story - kuddos!

3/26/2010 01:16:40 PM Report Abuse

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