Food-safety bill stalls in Senate

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By JAKE HENSHAW June 4, 2009

SACRAMENTO A food-safety campaign to tighten up the standard for meat served in schools and to give the state new power to recall contaminated food largely stalled Wednesday in the Senate.

Senators rejected Senate Bill 416 by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, that would have authorized schools to buy meat and poultry that hadn't been routinely treated with antibiotic drugs.

It also would have required state school officials to collect and report to the Legislature on information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the use of antibiotics in meat going to California schools.

Originally, SB 416 would have banned serving meat and poultry in schools that had been routinely treated with antibiotics.

The legislators approved SB 173 by Florez, but instead of mandating recalls as originally proposed, it only allows state public-health officials to adopt regulations for voluntary recalls.

SB 173 next goes to the Assembly and SB 416 could be reconsidered by the Senate.

Before the final votes, Florez said he was just trying to get his bills to the Assembly when he might try to strengthen them again.

"In order to keep our bills alive on very heavy topics, we are going to keep that [discussion on them] going as they go to the Assembly," Florez said.

Both bills had been opposed by agricultural groups, while medical groups were divided on animals treated with drugs.

The Senate also passed Florez's measure, SB 550, requiring that grocers with the technical capability alert their employees and customers whenever a recalled product is scanned.





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