www.illinois.gov

Pat Quinn, Governor

State Links Skip to Content Skip to State Links

 Government
 Business
 Employment
 Education
 Health & Safety
 Family & Home
 Travel & Recreation
 About Illinois
 Illinois.gov

Stay Informed

Your Government


Illinois Flag Honors

Inspector General


 IGNN: State/All Press Release

ILLINOIS NEWS
The State of Illinois News page provides access to the Illinois Government News Network and all state press releases.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich urges U.S. Senate Committee to oppose bill that would undermine Illinois’ ability to ensure food safety
The National Uniformity of Foods Act weakens state food safety standards

SPRINGFIELD – In light of the deadly E.Coli outbreak announced last week, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions urging them to vote against a bill before them that would preempt state food safety rules and regulations that are stronger than federal requirements.  The National Uniformity for Foods Act of 2006, S.3128, is intended to provide uniform food safety warnings and notifications.  But, the act goes beyond its purpose and will threaten state food safety programs and the ability to respond without delay to local food safety concerns.
 
More than 110 people in 21 states have been sickened by contaminated spinach since the E. Coli virus was identified in fresh spinach last week. Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed the first case of E. Coli O157:H7 in our state, related to consumption of bagged spinach.
 
 “I am deeply concerned about how this bill and its companion H.R. 4167 will impact our ability to make sure the food supply in Illinois is safe – especially in light of the deadly E.Coli outbreak announced last week,” the Governor wrote. “While the legislation may be designed to create national uniform food safety warning notification requirements, I believe it will ultimately hinder our ability to protect our state’s food supply, and hinder our ability to respond quickly to local food safety concerns.  In 2002, 40 Illinois school children became sick after eating what appeared to be ammonia-contaminated chicken.  Our Department of Public Health issued the necessary embargos and the product was immediately removed from the schools so no other children became ill.  The legislation under consideration would have prevented our state health department from taking immediate action in a situation like this.”
 
Regulating and protecting the food supply is a responsibility shared by local, state and federal governments.  In fact, approximately 80 percent of food safety inspections in the United States are completed at state and local levels.
 
“The charge of the state health department and its local partners is to ensure the safety of the food supply and protect the public’s health,” said Dr. Eric Whitaker, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.  “In order to accomplish these goals, the state must retain its authority to respond to contaminated and adulterated products without the added burden and delay of seeking federal permission before taking action.”
 
“It is critical not to hinder our ability to ensure food safety in Illinois,” Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said.  “Illinois is a leader in food production, and it is imperative that our inspectors are able to do their jobs to make sure that food gets from the farm to the grocery store to your table safely.”
 
The text of the Governor’s letter follows:
 
Dear Senator Enzi:
 
I am writing today to urge you to oppose S. 3128, The National Uniformity for Foods Act of 2006, currently pending in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. I am deeply concerned about how this bill and its companion H.R. 4167 will impact our ability to make sure the food supply in Illinois is safe – especially in light of the deadly E.Coli outbreak announced last week.
 
More than 110 people in 21 states have been sickened by contaminated spinach since the E. Coli virus was identified in fresh spinach last week. Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) confirmed the first case of E. Coli O157:H7 in our state, related to consumption of bagged spinach. Yesterday, I urged Illinois grocery stores and restaurants to continue to take every precaution to protect children, seniors and families from E. Coli contamination and take spinach off their shelves and menus until we know for sure that the products are safe.
 
While this legislation may be designed to create national uniform food safety warning notification requirements, I believe it will ultimately hinder our ability to protect our state’s food supply, and hinder our ability to respond quickly to local food safety concerns.
 
For example, in 2002, forty Illinois school children became sick after eating what appeared to be ammonia-contaminated chicken.  Our Department of Public Health issued the necessary embargos and the product was immediately removed from the schools, so that no other children became ill.  The resolution under consideration would have prevented our state health department from taking immediate action in a situation like this.
 
Regulating and protecting the food supply is a responsibility shared by local, state and federal governments.  In fact, approximately 80% of food safety inspections in the United States are completed at state and local levels.  Therefore, final passage of S. 3128 and H.R. 4167, preempting state rules on food supply that may be stronger than federal law, could put Illinoisans at risk.
 
The State of Illinois does not oppose the concept of uniform food labeling.  However, the resolution extends well beyond labeling.  The charge of our state health department and its local partners is to ensure the safety of the food supply and protect the public’s health.  In order to accomplish these goals, Illinois must retain its authority to respond to contaminated and adulterated products without the added burden and delay of seeking federal permission before taking action.
 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
Rod R. Blagojevich
Governor


###

News Categories

 State/All
 Governor's Office
 Lt. Governor's Office
 Agriculture
 Budget/Fiscal
 Business
 Children/Families
 Culture
 Disabilities
 Economic Development
 Education
 Environment
 Flag Honors
 Health/Human Services
 History
 Infrastructure
 Opportunity Returns
 Recovery
 Safety/Security
 Technology
 Tourism/Recreation
 Transportation
 Workforce/Jobs

News Resources

 Search the News
 IIS Radio News
 RSS News Feeds
 e-News Subscriptions
 Communications Office
 Privacy Statement

Features

Sign up for an e-news subscription
Copyright © 2014 State of Illinois Site Map | Illinois Privacy Info | Kids Privacy | Web Accessibility | Contact Us