(March 16, 11:45 a.m.) With two appointments to lead the Food and Drug Administration, President Barack Obama’s goal is to shore up food safety regulations in the U.S.

In his weekly radio address March 14, Obama named Margaret Hamburg as his nominee for FDA commissioner and Joshua Sharfstein as the principal deputy commissioner.

Criticizing the Bush administration on food safety and referring to foodborne illness outbreaks linked to fresh spinach in 2006 and peppers in 2008, the president announced the creation of a new food safety working group chaired by the secretaries of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group will coordinate with other agencies and senior officials to advise the president on improving coordination throughout the government with regard to upgrading and enforcing food safety laws.

In his address, Obama pointed out that many food safety laws have not been updated since the Theodore Roosevelt administration. He also said the current system was too spread out over various government entities to work effectively and that the FDA is underfunded.

“That is a hazard to public health,” the president said. “It is unacceptable. And it will change under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Hamburg.”

Hamburg served as the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s founding vice president for the biological program. Before that, she was the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation for the Department of Health and Human Services. She served for six years as the commissioner of health for New York City and as the assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Sharfstein is commissioner of health for Baltimore. He’s a member of the board on population health and public health practice of the Institute of Medicine.

“Their critical work — and the critical work of the FDA they lead — will be part of a larger effort taken up by a new Food Safety Work Group I am creating,” Obama said. “I expect this group to report back to me with recommendations as soon as possible.”