FOOD SAFETYWHEREAS, consumer confidence in the safety of food produced, processed and sold in New Jersey is vital to maintaining a robust food and agriculture complex in the State; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s food and agriculture complex constitutes an $82 billion-a-year sector of the State’s economy, contributing significant economic and quality-of-life benefits to the State’s residents; and
WHEREAS, in recent months, food safety issues have risen to a new level of importance across the country, as food-borne illnesses related to produce, including spinach, tomatoes and lettuce, have raised concerns that the food supply may be susceptible to contamination; and
WHEREAS, no New Jersey farms have been implicated in any of the recent food-borne illnesses, although some New Jersey fast-food restaurants and their New Jersey-based suppliers have been the focus of investigations into a recent E. coli outbreak; and
WHEREAS, any connection of the State’s food-supply chain to illnesses has the effect of reducing consumer confidence in all food, including New Jersey-produced, processed or distributed food; and
WHEREAS, consumers have a right to expect safe food in the marketplace and any such reduction in consumer confidence in New Jersey food can negatively impact the economic viability of New Jersey farmers producing food products; and
WHEREAS, the inclusion of Jersey Fresh quality grading standards and third-party auditing of farms are important parts of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s efforts to ensure fresh, high-quality and safe food reaches consumers; and
WHEREAS, it is important for the future of New Jersey agricultural operations producing food for fresh-market sale or for processing to maintaining a high level of consumer confidence in the foods produced, processed and distributed here.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 13, 2007, support the continued efforts of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, working alone or in concert with other State and Federal agencies, agricultural groups and others in the market chain, to ensure the safety of New Jersey produced, processed or distributed food.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the work of the Produce Safety Task Force, created within the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and including representation from other State agencies, agricultural organizations, Rutgers University and the produce industry, to ensure that New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable producers, processors and distributors can and do meet the prevailing standards for food safety in New Jersey and the United States.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Produce Safety Task Force to consider issues of market sustainability and expansion of market opportunities, and in particular, to explore the marketing, public awareness of and public demand for New Jersey produce grown through the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the continued efforts of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to educate the public about the high standards of food safety being met by the produce industry in New Jersey.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support continued use of the Jersey Fresh quality grading standards and third-party auditing as components of a comprehensive food-safety strategy.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Legislature and the Governor to provide additional funding for third-party auditing and the Jersey Fresh quality grading programs to continue ensuring that New Jersey offers fresh, high-quality and safe foods to consumers.