Legislators want food lab in seafood plant

Posted: Friday, April 04, 2003

KENAI (AP) Some state legislators want to house the state's food safety laboratory, now in Palmer, in an Anchorage seafood processing plant.

The senators say the state could save money by using part of the Alaska Seafood International complex. The plant was built with state money but is only partly occupied by the struggling business.

Gov. Frank Murkowski has asked the Legislature to approve a $14.3 million bond for a new lab to replace the existing Seafood and Food Safety Laboratory, which has been operating at its Palmer location for more than 35 years but is slated to go in a new Anchorage facility.

Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, and seven other members of the Senate, including Democrats Kim Elton of Juneau and Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis of Anchorage, say moving the lab to the ASI building could save at least part of the $14.3 million.

Alaska Seafood International leases space in the 250,000-square-foot Anchorage building from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. ASI does not use all the available space, however.

The lab does a variety of work for the state. Workers test water for shellfish growing areas, check shellfish for paralytic poisoning and other dangers, sample finfish for parasites and conduct an ongoing project sampling commercially caught salmon for persistent organic pollutants.

The lab also tests dairy products, works with the commercial food industry checking product shelf life, and tests cattle and horses for diseases such as tuberculosis.

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