Candidate proposes big Ag Department reforms in Lubbock stop - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/28/10

Candidate proposes big Ag Department reforms in Lubbock stop

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - During stops in a handful of Texas cities including Lubbock on Wednesday, Democratic candidate for Ag Commissioner Hank Gilbert announced his proposal for reforms at the Texas Department of Agriculture. 

"TDA has the potential to become the state's strongest consumer protection agency," Gilbert says. Gilbert met with local supporters at Democratic headquarters in Lubbock. 
 
"We must put an end to the patchwork quilt of regulation and inspection that has put our state's food supply in jeopardy," Gilbert continued.

Gilbert also mentioned Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview as one example of the need for reform.  "Two years ago, peanuts contaminated with dangerous bacteria left a peanut plant here in West Texas and entered the food chain with terrible consequences."

Nine people died and an estimated 700 others nationwide got sick from salmonella contamination at PCA's plants in both Plainview and Blakely, Georgia. 

The Plainview plant was not properly licensed and more recently state officials have discovered 350 or more food plants statewide that are not properly licensed.

Gilbert proposes a comprehensive food safety inspection for all agricultural commodities.  That would include grocery stores, wholesalers, warehouses, processors, manufacturers, bakeries, beverage producers, and slaughterhouses.  All of it would be centralized under the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Gilbert's Republican opponent responded Wednesday evening through a spokesperson.  "Todd Staples has been endorsed for re-election by every major agriculture group in Texas and that speaks for itself."

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