"With the health and economic impact of food-related threats like E.coli, it is important that we do all we can to prevent outbreaks, and that we have the resources to quickly respond to outbreaks when they do occur," Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying. "This funding will expand the number of trained investigator teams to examine illnesses and outbreaks and enhance the state's capacity to test food and environmental samples."
The funds would be used by the newly authorized Department of Public Safety when it begins operating in July to increase the number of state food safety investigators.
The proactive governor was reacting to last fall's two deadly E.coli incidences that were traced to produce grown in California's Salinas Valley.
State health officials are holding a hearing in Monterey County this week to finalize a new agreement on the safe handling of leafy green produce, such as lettuce and spinach, grown in California. Under the new agreement, a produce inspection program will begin among participating handlers and distributors. The governor's office said participants in the program who certify that they adhered to acknowledged best practices in the acquisition and sale of the produce would be allowed to certify that with an official seal.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture plans to implement a similar program among growers over the next several months, according tonews reports.