"Our food safety mission is to provide consumers in the commonwealth with a safe and wholesome food supply," Wolff said. "Together with routine inspections and testing programs, the Department uses public outreach and education to ensure that Pennsylvania's residents consume foods that meet the highest safety standards."
Wolff was speaking to members of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee about Department of Agriculture's responsibilities, efforts and accomplishments pertaining to food safety inspections and food safety priorities during a hearing on food safety at the Capitol Building.
The Department's Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services operates under regulations from a number of laws, including the Food Act (Act 70), the Public Eating and Drinking Places Law (Act 179) and the Food Employee Certification Act (Act 131). Currently, the Bureau is charged with inspecting, licensing, registering and/or permitting approximately: 23,000 public eating and drinking establishments; 15,100 retail food stores; 4,00 food manufacturing firms; 4,250 frozen dessert operations; 2,800 schools; 2,200 warehouses; 600 summer food sites; 400 dairy processing, manufacturing and distribution facilities; and 280 seasonal farm labor camps.
The Department also partners with other state and federal agencies and educates food service staff to ensure proper food safety practices throughout the state.
"The foundation for protecting the food supply is making sure that those individuals involved in food preparation and delivery are properly educated on Pennsylvania's food safety laws and regulations," said Wolff. "We're going to continue to concentrate on these areas as the primary source of promoting food safety. Inspections are just a snapshot of conditions at that time, while good food safety knowledge and practices can be encouraged continuously."
While at the Capitol, Wolff also talked about the new Garrison System, a food safety software program. Food sanitarians will be able to perform inspections and file their reports in real-time, which will save money and increase efficiency. Once filed, the reports will be available online for consumers to review.
"New tools, like the Garrison program, will allow us to better manage our food safety responsibilities, better serve the consumer, and enhance food security in the commonwealth by detecting problems early in the food system," Wolff said.