Agriculture Commissioner Asked To Step Down Over Salmonella Outbreak

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ATLANTA -- In the midst of the salmonella outbreak linked to a South Georgia peanut plant a call has gone out for the state agriculture commissioner to step down.

Randy Evans, a member of the state Board of Elections, said agriculture commissioner Tommy Irvin should take responsibility for the salmonella outbreak and resign.

Irvin has headed up the Department of Agriculture for 40 years.

"Honestly, it's a product of the fact that we've had someone who took office before man landed on the moon," Evans told WSB-TV Channel 2. "Things change a lot in 40 years."

Evans says agriculture inspectors had evidence that conditions at the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely were unsanitary. If they'd been able to correlate that information, he says the outbreak could have been prevented and the eight people who've died might still be alive.

In a statement, commissioner Irvin said, "I am surprised by Mr. Evans' comments and lack of knowledge on this particular matter as well as his grasp of both science and technology. I cannot imagine the purpose behind his outrageous charges except perhaps to drum up clients for his law practice."



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