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Son of Woman Killed by E. coli Testifies: Legislature must go farther than industry-led marketing agreement

Darryl Howard, the son of Betty Howard, a Richland, Washington, resident who died after contracting E. coli O157:H7 last September after eating California-grown spinach, will testify before the California Senate Agriculture Committee in Oakland, advocating for legislation to ensure fresh produce safety.

Mr. Howard and his two brothers will attend the hearing in support of Senate Bills 200, 201 and 202, which are sponsored by Senator Dean Florez.

“The state needs some jurisdictional teeth not just over products, but over potential E. coli sources,” said Mr. Howard.  “After listening to testimony by John Dyer, CFDA’s chief counsel who helped write the agreement for the state, say, ‘Growers aren’t subject to this act, and to the agreement’ and ‘Marketing Orders and Agreements are not food safety-empowered programs,’ I knew this agreement did not go far enough and gives the public a false sense of security.”  The leafy greens marketing agreement goes into effect on April 1st, to which Mr. Howard said, “It’s appropriate because it’s April Fools Day.”

Howard will submit for the record the federal testimony of Dr. Kevin Reilly, Deputy Director, Prevention Services, California Department of Health Services.  Dr. Riley gave testimony on November 15, 2006 to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  In his testimony, he stated that, “The Salinas Valley appears to have systemic E. coli O157:H7 contamination in the environment that has led to a number of fresh produce associated outbreaks over time.”

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