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TOPEKA, Kansas - Effective Oct. 1, the state of Kansas will put in place streamlined food safety licensing and inspection processes for grocery stores and other licensed food processors and vendors.
The reorganization comes in the wake of a January executive order from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, which moves some food safety functions from the state's Department of Health and Environment to its Department of Agriculture. The order was then approved by the 2004 Kansas Legislature and expanded on in a state Senate bill. The state's food safety regulations did not change.
As a result of the transfer, the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) will start licensing and inspecting about 3,700 grocery stores, restaurants within in grocery stores, food processing plants, mobile ice cream vendors, food vending machines, and food vending machine companies/dealers. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) will retain its duties of licensing and inspecting around 11,000 restaurants, school foodservice operations, senior meal locations, mobile food units, and all lodging facilities.
"Food safety for Kansas consumers will continue to be one of state government's highest priorities," said KDHE Secretary Roderick L. Bremby in a statement. "We're just streamlining the process to be more efficient and to give businesses single points of contact on food safety issues."
According to the KDA, the departmental collaboration will continue after Oct. 1, to ensure the highest food safety standards.
"The new duties are a good fit with our department's egg, dairy, and meat and poultry food safety inspections," said KDA Secretary Adrian Polansky in a statement. "The new structure will allow us -- KDA and KDHE -- to use our food safety staff more effectively and allow businesses to license with one state agency instead of two."
"KDHE will now more closely focus on those consumer food safety issues that typically pose more challenges due to the complex processes in preparation and holding of foods for immediate consumption," said Bremby.
When contacted by Progressive Grocer, Dan Wellinghoff, store director of an Overland Park, Kan. location of West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, had not previously heard anything about the streamlined inspection process, but offered the opinion that it "ought to be seamless for us. It's [the state's] side that'll see all the changes."