Perdue Signs Food Safety Bill into Law

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

FORT VALLEY, GA (WTVM) - Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was in Fort Valley Friday, signing into law legislation(Senate Bill 80) that would increase government oversight on food production.

It's aimed at preventing things such as a salmonella outbreak, like the one that stemmed from the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Georgia this year.

"This will give the Department of Agriculture and the state of Georgia more tools in which to catch those people who choose not to be honest," Perdue said.

The bill, co-sponsored by State Senator John Bulloch, moved quickly through both houses of legislature.

It will require food processing plants to report decontamination test results to state inspectors within 24 hours.

The state will still rely on the plants to voluntarily submit that information.

"That's why we were all so personally offended, those of us in the food chain of growing and preparing and processing and delivering food, we were so offended that one operator in Georgia would have violated that sacred trust," Perdue said.

The law also allows state food inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture to inspect processing plants more often, and without notice.

"When people do come into this state and don't do that, it makes us mad. And this legislation will give us some more tools, while we're going to trust the honesty and integrity, it gives us some more tools to verify that honesty and integrity in the food supply chain," Perdue said.

While it is the first legislation of its kind in the United States, Governor Perdue acknowledged it is just the first step in making sure that food production plants only pass along food that is free from decontamination.