California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Food Safety Law


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last weekend signed into law important legislation that would help protect that state’s consumers from tainted food. The bill requires meat and poultry companies whose products are being recalled to tell state health officials which retailers and restaurants received the contaminated products.

Two years ago Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation. The recent outbreak of E. coli infections traced back to contaminated spinach clearly highlighted the need for more public information about food recalls.

“Families have a right to know whether or not the chicken or beef in their refrigerator was subject to a food-safety recall,” said Ken Kelly, staff attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The federal government shouldn’t be handcuffing state health officials, who need to get recall information out quickly to the public.”

In 2003, California was one of several states that received meat from a Washington State cow that tested positive for mad cow disease. But because California is one of 12 states that have signed secrecy agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state health officials were prohibited from identifying stores or restaurants that may have received beef from the infected cow. Since 2004, CSPI has been urging USDA not to require state health officials to remain silent as a condition of receiving detailed recall information from the federal government.

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