In a previous blog post, I explained that the new produce safety regulations released as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) do not address the cause of past foodborne illness outbreaks, leaving the produce industry in limbo. It also leaves consumers unprotected because they view most produce items as being “ready-to-eat” (RTE), meaning that they are able to be consumed without any additional washing or cooking. Regardless of where a farm or packing shed falls within the regulations, this perception by consumers raises significant concerns for public health, which then fall to the grower or packer to address. Continue Reading

Questions about the safety of fresh produce are in the headlines again following recent North American outbreaks involving Salmonella in sprouts, Salmonella in papayas and E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce. Moreover, the Produce Safety rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) took effect for large farms in January, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented the next stage of its targeted sampling program for fresh produce and related commodities. Continue Reading

The choice between eating a salad or a frosted donut may seem obvious in terms of nutrition, but for many of us, this can be a difficult decision. Despite our knowledge of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, the majority of Americans are still failing to follow the federal dietary guidelines. In fact, a recently published study revealed that only 1 in 10 of American adults consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables (CDC, 2017). Continue Reading

Currently, the first stages of FSMA are being implemented, and the FDA is beginning to inspect facilities according to the new rules. In anticipation, companies in all sectors of the food industry are adjusting their food safety plans to meet the new requirements and pass inspections. Certain segments of the food industry, such as farms growing and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables, are adjusting to new federal regulatory oversight that they have not experienced before. In particular, the processed fruit and vegetable segments are struggling with consumers treating their products as ready-to-eat, instead of their traditional use as raw agricultural commodities. This, coupled with the fact that the new regulations do not address the cause of past outbreaks, leaves the produce industry in limbo and the consumer unprotected. Continue Reading

States Preparing to Implement Produce Safety Rule
A partnership between federal and state regulators is vital for the successful implementation of the produce safety programs mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). On September 9, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that 42 states will receive $21.8 million over a five-year period to facilitate the implementation of the produce safety rules. The participation of state regulators in the implementation of state produce safety programs is dependent upon federal funds, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). State and federal agencies will begin to coordinate efforts soon as certain produce safety requirements will take effect in January 2018 for large farms. Continue Reading