Georgia Senate passes food safety bill

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2/25/2009-Georgia Senate Bill 80 (SB80), the Food Safety Testing, Reporting & Record Keeping bill launched by Senator John Bulloch (R-Ochlocknee), passed 50-0 on Feb. 18. The bill was proposed in response to the nationwide Salmonella outbreak that was linked to the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga. Bulloch’s legislation would require that food processing facilities report suspicions of contaminated food, food testing, and retention of testing results to the Dept. of Agriculture. This legislation would provide the department free access to any food processor’s testing records for the presence of contaminants. The Commissioner of Agriculture is also directed to establish requirements for regular food testing on a yearly or more frequent basis.

The measure strengthens requirements for reporting contaminated products or the suspicions of contaminated products, requiring that a food processor report testing results by the next business day to the department. Bulloch claims the bill will ensure that any testing or suspicions are reported directly to the state. In addition, the bill gives the commissioner the right to test any food if there are reasonable grounds to suspect contamination. Financial responsibility for the cost of testing lies solely with the food establishment, not the department.

In should be noted that before the final vote an amendment was introduced by Bulloch, allowing for food processors to be exempted from testing if they draw up a food safety plan that is approved by the state. It is unclear what is required of these food safety plans or how often checks would have to take place. The bill will become law after approval by the state Governor, or by passing into law without that approval.

“When people’s lives are at stake, food safety inspections should not be subject to lax regulations,” said Bulloch. “Consumers must be assured their food is safe and we must protect the integrity of Georgia’s producers. Much of our economy depends on the state’s agriculture industry, which cannot afford to suffer the negative impacts of food recalls.”

Ga. SB80

Ga. Senate release



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