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Governor Rendell Forms Food Safety Council to Protect Public Health, Food Supply
Date:2/25/2009

Agriculture and Health Secretaries to Chair Advisory Council

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To provide better oversight of Pennsylvania's food supply from the field to the dinner table, Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the formation of the new Governor's Food Safety Council and announced his appointees to the panel.

The first council in the state to focus on food safety, members will advise the Governor on direction for security protocols and practices at all stages of the food supply. The council will also help facilitate coordination among federal, regional, state and local efforts. The council will be chaired by Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff and Health Secretary Everette James

"A threat to our food supply impacts not only the 63,000 farms in Pennsylvania and the millions of jobs related to the food industry, but the people all over the world that consume the foods we produce. It is critical that we do everything we can to ensure a safe and secure food supply," said Governor Rendell. "The Food Safety Council will help develop and implement the proactive food safety measures we need to protect the well-being of Pennsylvanians and the consumers of our state's many food products."

Council members represent all segments of food production, processing and retailing. They include health and emergency response personnel who are the first point of contact in a foodborne illness outbreak or a suspected threat to the food chain.

The council will be the guiding body behind the state's new multi-agency food safety initiative, the Strategy for Agriculture and Food Excellence, or SAFE.

"Our modern food supply is complex, and includes many steps from the initial production in the field to the final product served to consumers, overseen by an array of federal, state and local agencies," said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. "The goals of the SAFE initiative and the Food Safety Council will be to work collaboratively with these agencies and the private sector to plan for, prevent and respond to food safety emergencies."

The SAFE initiative aims to address threats to the safety and security of the food supply, including both intentional and naturally occurring. The initiative was developed by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health, in coordination with the Office of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, as well as input from food processors, retailers and health officials.

Creation of the Governor's Food Safety Council was the first major recommendation of the SAFE initiative, and will help guide future recommendations.

"By bringing together key people who play a role in food safety and security, we will have the ability to respond more quickly to outbreaks and threats to the food supply," said Health Secretary Everette James. "Doing so will further help protect the health of our commonwealth citizens."

In November of last year, secretaries Wolff and James participated in the Department of Agriculture's annual Harvest Tour, which focused on food safety. The cabinet officials visited farms, processing and packaging facilities, food banks and retailers to learn about the measures taken as food travels from producers to consumers. The secretaries will share their experiences with the council.

The 22-member Food Safety Council will meet quarterly, and members of the council will be appointed for terms of two years, serving until their successors have been appointed. The Governor will fill vacancies that may occur and may replace any member of the council at his discretion.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Governor's appointees to the Food Safety Council are listed below:

Frank Campbell, Newport

Dr. Nancy Childs, Dauphin

Patrick Conway, Dauphin

John Cox, York

Debbie Crosby, Pittsburgh

Diane Deitzel, Hollidaysburg

Dr. Bruce Dixon, Pittsburgh

John Estey, Ardmore

Donna Fecundo, Boothwyn

Tom Gardine, Coatesville

George Giangi, Hershey

Chris Herr, Camp Hill

Dr. Daney Jackson, Pennsylvania Furnace

Chuck Lamb, Souderton

Gary LeGore, Harrisburg

Lolly Lesher, Bernville

Dr. Donald McLean, Boiling Springs

Ross Pifer, Gettysburg

Dr. Palak Raval-Nelson, Philadelphia

Lee Showalter, Chambersburg

Randy St. John, Camp Hill

Gary Swan, East Berlin

    CONTACT:
    Chuck Ardo
    717-783-1116
    Chris L. Ryder (Ag)
    717-787-5085
    Claudine Battisti (Health)
    717-787-1783


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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