FDA Chief Hamburg on 'Deadly' Listeria Outbreak in Cantaloupe

Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, called the recent eruption of listeria in cantaloupes "the most serious, most deadly food-borne outbreak in decades." In comments at a lunch-time session of the Washington Ideas Forum, Hamburg said the incident is "a very, very important reminder that even though we have one of the safest food supplies in the world, we are still very vulnerable." 

Hamburg noted that 3,000 Americans die of food-borne illnesses each year.

Washington Ideas Forum - Full Coverage

In the interview with Atlantic senior editor Corby Kummer, Hamburg also talked about a just-released report from the FDA on biomedical innovation. It's part of an initiative, she said, to improve the relationship between government officials and entrepreneurs in the health and medical communities who are subject to federal regulation. "I don't think it will come as news to anyone that there is concern about whether regulatory agencies...represent barriers to progress and innovation, or gateways." Her unspoken implication: gateways.

Hamburg said she wants to strengthen ties between the FDA and biomedical entrepreneurs, and she suggested she understands the pain caused by excessive bureaucracy. "Every day is costing them money, and every day [they have to wait] is compromising their ability...to get the product to the finish line."

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Bob Cohn is the president and chief operating officer of The Atlantic. He was previously the editor of Atlantic Digital, the executive editor of Wired and The Industry Standard, and a writer at Newsweek. More

As The Atlantic's president and chief operating officer, Cohn oversees business and revenue operations for the company’s print, digital, and live-events divisions. He came to the job in March 2014 after five years as the editor of Atlantic Digital, where he built and managed teams at TheAtlantic.comThe Wire, and The Atlantic Cities.

Before coming to The Atlantic, Cohn worked for eight years as the executive editor of Wired, where he helped the magazine find a mainstream following and earn a national reputation. During the dot-com boom, he was the executive editor of The Industry Standard, a newsweekly covering the Internet economy. In the late 1990s, he served as editor and publisher of Stanford magazine. He began his journalism career at Newsweek, where for 10 years he was a correspondent in the Washington bureau, at various times covering the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Clinton White House.

In 2013, TheAtlantic.com won the National Magazine Award for best website. During Cohn’s tenure at Wired, the magazine was nominated for 11 National Magazine Awards and won six, including honors for general excellence in 2005, 2007, and 2009. As a writer, Cohn won a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for coverage of the Clarence Thomas confirmation process.

A graduate of Stanford, Cohn has a masters in legal studies from Yale Law School. He lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and two daughters.

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