OCEAN TOWNSHIP – State Senator Vin Gopal’s bill to protect consumers by regulating ice-packaging operators went to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“Many people hold the mistaken belief that because ice is frozen, it cannot contain dangerous bacteria. We know from numerous independent studies that harmful contamination can occur from packaged ice not manufactured under any standards,” Gopal, D-Monmouth, said. “In fact, a study published in the Journal of Food Protection shows that packaged ice manufactured without the standards that are included in this legislation has a 25-to 30-percent chance of testing positive for contamination where a bag produced of ice with these standards has never produced a negative result in any independent testing.”
Under the proposed “Packaged Ice Plant Operator and Packaged Ice Dealer Licensing Act”, cosponsored by Senator Nellie Pou, D-Passaic, packaged ice plants would be required to conduct quarterly testing to determine the presence of certain contaminants. In addition, packaged ice which is manufactured, distributed, or sold within the state would have to meet the drinking water quality standards and regulations of the Department of Environmental Protection “Safe Drinking Water Act.”
“This legislation significantly enhances the level of oversight on a food product that has never received the necessary federal or state regulatory attention,” Gopal said, adding that the International Packaged Ice Association has issued a statement in support of the bill.
Senator Gopal Bill to Provide Municipal Grants to Control the Spotted Lantern Fly to be Heard Thursday by Senate Environment Committee
The Senate Environmental and Energy Committee will consider Senator Vin Gopal’s legislation to create a grant program to help towns control the infestation of spotted lantern flies during its Thursday, March 9, 2023 hearing.
“Since moving into New Jersey from Pennsylvania in 2018, the invasive Asian plant-hopper has become pervasive here and threatens crops, plants and trees,” Gopal, D-Monmouth, said.
Spotted lanternflies suck the sap from as many as 70 plant species, especially fruit trees. As they feed, they secrete a sugary substance that promotes mold growth and can weaken and eventually kills trees and plants. Senator Gopal’s bill, sponsored in the lower house by Assemblyman Roy Freiman, D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon, would appropriate $5 million for Department of Agriculture grants and calls for the department to establish qualifying criteria as well as guidelines and procedures for towns to apply.
“With few predators and no parasites in New Jersey to keep it in check, the spotted lantern fly population has been getting bigger every year,” Gopal said. “Economists at Penn State University reported that the spotted lanternfly had already done $50 million in damage to plants and crops in Pennsylvania by January of 2020, and has the potential of costing New Jersey at least $324 million per year and up to 2,800 jobs.”