Senator: food producers need jail after outbreaks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont says food producers responsible for widespread, deadly outbreaks of disease should face jail time, not just fines.

Leahy said some food makers won't take federal and state health rules seriously without tougher penalties. According to Leahy: "Fines won't do it."

Leahy's comments came during a hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee looking into a salmonella outbreak stemming from a Georgia peanut processing plant. Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the Food and Drug Administration's food safety director, told Leahy a criminal investigation is under way.

The outbreak has resulted in more than 550 illnesses and at least eight deaths. More than 1,100 products have been recalled in the wake of the outbreak.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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