Georgia's double standard on Salmonella contamination.

Georgia promotes spreading Salmonella on food crops, then wants to send someone to jail and fine them when
Salmonella reaches the consumer.

"The issue that brought all this to the surface was that individuals disrespected the safety of the consumer" by allegedly
shipping products known to be contaminated with salmonella, he said

The punishment includes a fine and up to a year in prison, he said.

Seeking safety in food products, state lawmakers take action
DALLAS DUNCAN
Issue date: 3/24/09 Section: News
http://media.www.redandblack.com/media/storage/paper871/news/2009/03/24/News/Seeking.Safety.In.Food.Products.St
ate.Lawmakers.Take.Action-3680001.shtml

After causing more than 400 illnesses and at least five deaths, the Peanut Corporation of America's Blakely processing
facility is making its way back into the headlines - this time via the Georgia General Assembly.

A salmonella outbreak originating in Blakely caused a "need for changes in Georgia law to create a better oversight
opportunity," said Georgia's 11th District Senator John Bulloch in an interview Monday.

"The issue that brought all this to the surface was that individuals disrespected the safety of the consumer" by allegedly
shipping products known to be contaminated with salmonella, he said.

Bulloch is one of six senators sponsoring Senate Bill 80, which he hopes "will regain consumer confidence," especially
for products from Georgia facilities.

The bill is "a step in the right direction," Scott Angle, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,
said in an interview Monday. "This is not just a state problem; changes in the [Food and Drug Administration] regulation
system are needed just as much as changes at the state level."

The bill is an amendment to an existing article of the Official Code of Georgia. It seeks to broaden the inspection
policies, rules and regulation associated with food processing in Georgia.

Some of the changes include frequency of product testing, implementing a 24-hour window in which facilities must alert
the Georgia Department of Agriculture of a food-borne pathogen and requiring companies to make available any
"pathogen destruction records," Georgia Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture Oscar Garrison said in an interview
Monday.

In the case of the Blakely plant and other peanut processing facilities, the pathogen destruction records are known as
"roasting logs."

"The temperature of a roaster and the time [the peanuts are in it] determine the color and to some degree the flavor" of
the finished peanuts, in addition to killing microorganisms, Bulloch said.

The existing code treats violations of food safety regulations as misdemeanors. But Senate Bill 80 "puts into the law that
it is punishable," Bulloch said.

The punishment includes a fine and up to a year in prison, he said.

The bill also seeks to employ five Department of Agriculture inspector positions in 2009 and more in 2010. Additional
inspectors will be filling vacant positions that were frozen during the hiring freeze in July 2008 and will assist in
implementing new regulations.

Though Bulloch indicated there would be a cost to fund these inspectors, he was unclear on where the funding would
come from.

The bill passed the Georgia House and Senate and is waiting on Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature, Bulloch said.

In an interview Monday, Chris Schrimpf, the press secretary for Perdue, said the office had not reviewed the bill and
thus could not speculate on any effects it would have on Georgia agriculture. Schrimpf said Perdue has a 40-day period
after the legislature is out of session to sign the bill into law.

The salmonella outbreak was an "isolated incident" that is "not reflective of Georgia's agricultural community as a
whole," Schrimpf said. "The Governor is proud of [Georgia's] products and commodities."

This bill provides a break from the norm.

"From what I understand, there's no other state law on food safety" that has this many rules and regulations, Bulloch
said.

Senate Bill 80 is already setting precedent for similar laws in other states, and if Perdue signs it, the law will be the
"toughest [food safety] law in the nation."

Representatives from the Peanut Corporation of America could not be reached for comment.