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Pennsylvania Governor's Food Safety Council to Hold First Meeting on April 22
Date:4/17/2009

Acting FDA Commissioner to Provide National Perspective

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff and Health Secretary Everette James will host the first meeting of the Governor's Food Safety Council on April 22 to proactively address food safety and security concerns.

The council will meet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Wildwood Conference Center at the Harrisburg Area Community College. The council will hear a presentation by the acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

Chaired by the state secretaries of Health and Agriculture, the council connects 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 and share recommendations with Governor Edward G. Rendell on these topics, as well as insight on new opportunities and potential threats.

"From the time our food is planted and raised at the farm level to the point it is served in restaurants and at dinner tables across the nation, it can travel thousands of miles, be handled by countless individuals and be inspected by a mix of federal, state and local regulators," said Wolff. "To help keep Pennsylvania's farmers, consumers and businesses safe in this complex global food supply, the Governor's Food Safety Council will work across the range of public and private organizations to plan for, prevent and respond to food safety concerns. Together, we can see that Pennsylvania remains a leader in food production and safety."

Sharfstein, appointed as acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by President Obama, will provide the council with an overview of federal food safety efforts. Dr. Sharfstein brings to his position a strong public health background, serving as Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore from December 2005 through March 2009.

"Protecting the public from food borne illness requires coordination among federal, state and local agencies, as well as the businesses that produce and sell food. Our efforts must focus on preventing illness and better responding when outbreaks do occur," said James. "We support FDA's renewed emphasis on prevention and look forward to working with Dr. Sharfstein to improve our food safety partnership."

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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