FDA Sets Fresh-Produce Safety Rules
Agency Recommends New Rules for Packaged Fresh-Cut Fruits and Vegetables
WebMD News Archive
March 12, 2007 -- The FDA today advised the fresh-cut produce industry on
ways to improve food safety from farm to table.
Fresh-cut produce are packaged, minimally processed fresh fruits and
vegetables including shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, salad mixes, peeled
baby carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, cut celery stalks,
shredded cabbage, cut melon, sliced pineapple, and sectioned grapefruit.
The FDA's guidelines aren't binding, but the FDA hasn't ruled out the
possibility of setting mandatory rules for the industry in the future, the
FDA's Nega Beru, PhD, said at a news conference.
"This is a first. We haven't issued guidance for the fresh-cut industry
before," said Beru, who directs the Office of Food Safety at the FDA's
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Many companies in the fresh-cut industry are already using practices
recommended in the draft guidelines, FDA spokeswoman Julie Zawisza said at the
Spotlight on Food Safety
"The food supply in the United States remains one of the safest in the
world," the FDA's David Acheson, MD, said at the news conference.
Acheson directs the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency
Response at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
There have been 72 food-borne illness outbreaks associated with fresh
produce from 1996 to 2006, and a quarter of those outbreaks were tied to
fresh-cut produce, according to the FDA.
Last year, an E. coli outbreak from fresh spinach killed three people
and sickened nearly 200 others in 26 states and temporarily took fresh spinach
off shelves nationwide.Obviously, recent outbreaks have raised concern about
the safety of the food supply, but overall, based on information from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no indication that the
total number of food-borne illnesses is actually on the increase compared to
where it was a decade ago," Acheson says.