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      After salmonella, Georgia officials defend inspectors

      Georgia's top agriculture officials are defending the state's inspection process at a legislative hearing called to address the salmonella outbreak traced to a Blakely, Georgia, peanut processing plant.

      The process came under fire after a state inspector found only minor problems when she probed the Blakely plant in October. Less than three months later, federal agents found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and other problems. Lawmakers responded to the outbreak by passing legislation that would make Georgia the first state to require that food makers swiftly alert state inspectors if internal tests show their products are tainted. That proposal is awaiting Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature.

      Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said such legislation would likely have "been impossible to pass" before the outbreak.

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