Sunday, March 18, 2007
Article in the New York Times -- F.D.A. Offers Guidelines to Fresh-Food Industry, by Marian Burros. Here's an excerpt:
The Food and Drug Administration yesterday offered new, nonbinding guidelines to food processors to try to reduce the risk of food poisoning in fresh-cut produce like bagged spinach leaves, sliced tomatoes and imported melons, but acknowledged that it could not say with certainty what caused the recent outbreaks connected to E. coli and salmonella, or how to stop them.
It has taken the F.D.A. seven years to issue advice to the produce industry on how to reduce the risk of food poisoning in fresh-cut produce. The industry can choose to follow it or not: compliance is voluntary. But the agency said this was the first time it had made food safety suggestions to the produce industry that were like the mandatory regulations the meat industry must follow.
The F.D.A. is suggesting that the fresh-cut produce industry constantly monitor and control vulnerable places in the production cycle where the bacteria are likely to form.
The guidelines also call for record keeping for recalls and covers personal health and hygiene of workers and sanitation operations.
According to the agency, the number of illnesses stemming from produce stayed flat from 1998 to 2004 but more have been coming from the fresh-cut category, the fastest-growing segment of the produce industry, which has had $12 billion in annual sales.