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Pennsylvania Governor's Food Safety Council Meets to Discuss Food Supply Protection
Date:4/29/2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's chief agriculture and human health officials discussed foodborne threats and opportunities to improve national and state food safety initiatives at the first meeting of the Governor's Food Safety Council today in Harrisburg.

Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff and Health Secretary Everette James described to the council their agencies' roles in protecting the food supply and responding to outbreaks, as well as the impact of food safety on Pennsylvania's businesses and citizens.

"Too often we are reacting to food safety problems rather than preventing them," said Secretary James. "This council will help develop proactive food safety measures needed to protect the well-being of Pennsylvanians and consumers of our state's many food products."

The council is made up of local, state and federal representatives from all aspects of food production, distribution and retail, as well as the public health and emergency response communities. The council will review existing protocols, policies and legislation, share recommendations with Governor Edward G. Rendell, and provide insight on new opportunities and potential threats.

"Our food supply is complex, and from the point of production through the time someone consumes it, the food we eat can travel thousands of miles and be introduced to countless potential threats," said Wolff. "To help keep Pennsylvania's farmers, consumers and businesses safe, we are proactively working to ensure that threats to our food supply are minimized and that systems are in place to rapidly identify and contain any problems that may occur. Today's discussion was the first of many we hope to have that will keep all Pennsylvanians safe by protecting one of our most basic needs - food."

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, appointed as acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by President Obama, provided the council with an overview of federal food safety efforts. Secretary James said the partnership between federal, state and local health officials will help make sure Pennsylvania is at the forefront of protecting public health.

"The first Food Safety Council meeting brought together a diverse group of leaders representing all parts of Pennsylvania's food sector to discuss the issues surrounding food safety. It is critical to the residents of the commonwealth that we work together to develop procedures and protocols to address food threats and prevent foodborne illness," James said.

Creating the 22-member Food Safety Council was the main recommendation of the state's new multi-agency food safety initiative, the Strategy for Agriculture and Food Excellence, or SAFE.

The SAFE initiative aims to address threats to the food supply from farm-to-fork. The initiative was developed by the Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health, with input from food processors, retailers and health officials.

The council, with its diverse expertise and first-hand knowledge of the issues affecting food safety and food defense, will help guide future recommendations of the SAFE initiative.

    CONTACT: Stacy Kriedeman, Health
    717-787-1783

    Chris Ryder, Agriculture
    717-787-5085


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
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