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Food safety summit to recommend new legislation

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Health officials from across Missouri are focusing on ways to improve food safety.

A summit in Jefferson City is covering several issues, from protecting school kids from food-borne allergies to safeguarding food supplies from bio-terrorism.

Mary Fandrey is with the Department of Health and Senior Services.

"We are trying to plan for the future of food safety in Missouri, what direction do we need to (take), where do we have some opportunities, where (do) we need to strengthen the system, and where are we doing a great job, what's going really well," Fandrey said.

Susan Groeders with the group Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP), discussed the risks of food poisoning during one of the morning sessions.

"Statistics tell us that 76 million Americans become ill with food-borne diseases every year, with approximately 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths...these are toddlers, children, college students, parents and grandparents...they are teachers, real estate brokers, truck drivers, lawyers, retirees, homemakers, farmers," Groeders said.

Recommendations from the summit will be forwarded to state lawmakers for possible new legislation.

Missouri's current food safety laws are more than 60 years old.