Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary: New Law Improves Food Safety Oversight, Adds Additional Transparency, Uniformity to Inspections

November 30, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 30, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pennsylvanians will soon enjoy greater peace of mind that the businesses where they eat or buy food are clean and safe under a new law that raises the bar for food safety in Pennsylvania, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said today.

Governor Edward G. Rendell last week signed Act 106, which clarifies and strengthens oversight of food safety inspections for all retail food facilities, or restaurants and retail food stores. The new law takes effect on Jan. 22, 2011.

“Pennsylvania is home to more than 12.5 million citizens and many more travelers who trust us to ensure the food they consume or purchase is safe,” said Redding. “A uniform, statewide standard for food safety inspections will ensure food safety standards are consistent from community to community.”

Redding said 167 local jurisdictions perform their own safety inspections of an estimated 60,000 retail food facilities. Under the old law, each of those jurisdictions was allowed to have its own inspection procedures and reporting mechanisms.

Separately, the state agriculture department is responsible for inspecting the remaining more than 40,000 retail food facilities in Pennsylvania.

Under the new law, each of the state’s retail food facilities will be inspected using uniform regulations based on the federal Food and Drug Administration’s National Model Retail Food Code, regardless of the inspecting entity. Act 106 also requires that local inspection information be reported to the Department of Agriculture monthly and posted on a statewide online inspection database. Current law has no such requirement.

“This new law will make inspections more transparent, which improves accountability,” said Redding. “All inspections performed by local and state jurisdictions will be available on an easily accessible online inspection database. At any time, consumers will be able to go online to see up-to-date food inspection results, regardless of the inspecting body, empowering them to make informed decisions about where they dine out or buy their food.”

The department’s current database, available at www.EatSafePA.com, only includes facilities currently under the state’s jurisdiction and some local jurisdictions.

If a food facility fails its first re-inspection, the new law will enable the Department of Agriculture to charge that establishment for its second re-inspection, rather than making taxpayers bear the extra cost.

Since 2003, the Rendell administration has taken a number of measures to make Pennsylvania’s food establishments safer. It first adopted FDA’s Model Food Code in 2003 to begin creating a uniform inspection system. In 2006, it unveiled a landmark online system that makes inspection reports readily available to anyone. The system has since been recognized as a national model.

For more information about food safety in Pennsylvania, visit www.EatSafePA.com or call 717-787-4315.

Media contact: Nicole L. C. Bucher, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Source: newswire

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