Governor Signs SAFE Act into Law

ATLANTA – Today, Governor Sonny Perdue signed into law House Bill 883, the SAFE Act, authored by State Representative Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta).  The bill, known as the “Sanitary Activity for Food-Processing Enterprises (SAFE) Act,” would allow for felony punishment if a food processor knowingly releases tainted food products into the public resulting in injury or death to consumers.

“Georgia has a well-deserved reputation for setting the gold standard for food safety, and the SAFE Act continues our state’s long tradition of protecting the consuming public,” said Rep. Levitas.  “An overwhelming majority of food processors in Georgia keep quality and safety as their primary concerns.  The SAFE Act is intended to keep out the bad actors and punish the few who put profit over human life and safety.”

The new law will strengthen Georgia’s current food safety laws by adding greater protections for consumers.  Rep. Levitas, who co-chairs the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection Investigation and Oversight, said that hours of subcommittee testimony from a number of witnesses convinced him of the need for the SAFE Act.

In addition to punishing food processors who knowingly release tainted products that cause harm to the public, the SAFE Act requires that every food processor maintain a written sanitization plan at its facility to make plant inspections easier to conduct. It also imposes criminal sanctions on those who withhold food tests from inspectors, which could indicate the presence of food-borne pathogens.

Rep. Levitas noted that the SAFE Act builds upon the foundation laid by passage of Senate Bill 80 during the 2009 legislative session of the General Assembly, which became law last year.

“Senator Bulloch broke new ground with the passage of SB 80, which has become model food safety legislation for other states across the country to follow,” said Rep. Levitas.  “The SAFE Act builds upon the Senator’s great work and furthers the goals of protecting the public and ensuring that Georgia’s gold-standard reputation remains strong.”

Representative Kevin Levitas represents the citizens of District 82, which includes portions of DeKalb County. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 2006, and currently is the Secretary of the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.  He also serves on the Science and Technology, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, and Transportation Committees as well as on the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation.