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Dueling Produce Safety Standards Highlight Void Left by Lack of FDA Regulation
Date:5/7/2009

Side-by-Side Analysis Displays Significant Differences in Guidance

WASHINGTON, May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A side-by-side analysis of a variety of produce safety standards shows significant variations in guidance given fruit and vegetable growers in what steps they need to take to minimize microbial contamination in light of the lack of federal rules.

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its voluntary produce safety guidance 11 years ago, a number of organizations and one state have stepped into the regulatory void and adopted their own standards for the growing and harvesting of fresh produce (fruits and vegetables intended to be consumed raw). Some standards are general in nature, and others are commodity specific.

The Produce Safety Project, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts at Georgetown University, analyzed six standards, including FDA's 1998 Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) guidance document. The analysis shows that FDA's guidance lacks many of the criteria found in newer standards. FDA announced late last year that it intends to update its GAPs guidance document, but it will remain voluntary and no timetable for the update has been announced.

"The failure of the past Administration to let FDA move toward mandatory and enforceable standards for produce has clearly created a void that others are trying to fill," said Jim O'Hara, PSP director. "But FDA leadership is needed to determine sound science and make certain there is a level playing field. This is why it's critical for Dr. Peggy Hamburg to be confirmed as FDA commissioner and be on the job as soon as possible."

In 1997, the Clinton Administration's "Food Safety Initiative" identified the safety of fresh produce as a priority, and the FDA followed up in 1998 with its guidance to industry on ways to minimize microbial contamination during the growing, harvesting and pack
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SOURCE Produce Safety Project
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