Food Safety on State Tour Menu

Article excerpt

As part of a statewide tour focusing on food safety, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff visited the Westmoreland County Food Bank in Delmont on Monday.

State officials are conducting the tour as part of the Strategy for Agriculture and Food Excellence. The initiative is a comprehensive plan to address food safety and defense from farm to the fork.

"We've been working on SAFE for the last year," Wolff said. "It's an umbrella over food safety in Pennsylvania."

SAFE is a cooperative effort between the state departments of Agriculture and Health in coordination with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security. It includes input from food processors, retailers and health officials.

Wolff said the numerous departments are trying to put in place a comprehensive plan to ensure state consumers are being provided with safe food.

Information gleaned from the tours of food banks, food production and distribution centers and restaurants, along with roundtable discussions in numerous communities, will be used to produce a "road map," Wolff said, of the initiative the state hopes to put into place in Pennsylvania.

"We want to make sure we are a leader, taking advantage of all resources available," he said, to make food production better than it has been.

"Our modern food system is complex and depends on many factors, from the initial production in the field to the final product served to consumers," Wolff said. "These tours are an important step in understanding the precautions Pennsylvania producers, companies, manufacturers and organizations are taking to ensure the safety of our food supply."

"We are trying to be ahead of the curve, and if a challenge arises we can do a traceback," he said.

Food safety, he said, includes not only protecting food from pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella. Since the Sept. …