Safer Fruits and Vegetables: FDA Aims to Set Production Standards
As headlines from Europe implicate tainted vegetable sprouts in more than 4,000 illnesses and dozens of deaths, American consumers may wonder, “Could that happen here?”
The U.S. has had its own headline-grabbing outbreaks from contaminated vegetables—such as lettuce in 2010, peppers in 2008, and spinach in 2006—but a new law has set in motion sweeping improvements to the safety of our food supply.
President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act into law on Jan. 4, 2011, but the year before, the Food and Drug Administration was already gearing up for important work that was mandated by the act: the Produce Safety Regulation.
This regulation will establish mandatory, science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, sorting, packing, and storage of fresh fruits and vegetables. “This will be a monumental shift in food safety,” says James R. Gorny, Ph.D., FDA’s senior advisor for produce safety.
Since 1998, produce growers have had available the “Good Agricultural Practices” issued by FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). But this guidance is not an enforceable regulation like the Produce Safety Regulation will be, says Gorny.
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