Pennsylvania forms food safety council to protect health, food supply

HARRISBURG, Pa. — To provide better oversight of Pennsylvania’s food supply from the field to the dinner table, Gov. Edward Rendell has formed the new Governor’s Food Safety Council and appointed members 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.

Critical

“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 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.”

Membership

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 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.

Real experiences

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.


New council membership

Appointees to the Governor’s Food Safety Council are:

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

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