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Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 11:14am

Farmers Say Food Safety Bill is Weak

President Obama is expected to sign into law this week a bill that Georgia’s Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association say isn’t strong enough.

The bill gives more authority to the Food and Drug Administration in an attempt to prevent harmful contaminants like salmonella and e. coli.

An exemption in the law, however, excludes small producers from the new regulations.

Small producers are those who make less than $500,000 in yearly sales or about 92% of all Georgia farmers. Those who sell within a 275 mile radius are also exempt.

Charles Hall with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers association says the exemption leaves consumers vulnerable.

“After the Tester amendment was adopted we opposed the bill in that there is no science or risk basis to this. E. Coli does not know whether a farm is selling less than $500,000 nor do they know whether a farm is within in 275 miles of where they’re purchasing the food.”

Hall says the association supported the bill until the exemption was proposed by a Montana senator. He says the wide radius makes it difficult to trace contaminated food back to a local farm.