Washington, D.C.—The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law on January 4 of this year, and one stipulation of that legislation was that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should increase its safety measures surrounding fresh fruits and vegetables. Since then, U.S. citizens have watched tainted vegetables become implicated in widespread illness in Europe. Now, FDA is announcing its plans to move forward with the required regulations.

One aspect of these forthcoming regulations will be mandatory, scientific standards for fresh produce growers to follow. It will consist of baseline requirements for the safe growing, harvesting, sorting, packing and storage of produce, and will represent the first enforceable regulation of its kind. James R. Gorny, Ph.D., FDA’s senior advisor for produce safety said in an FDA release, “This will be a monumental shift in food safety.”

FDA had been hard at work on the Produce Safety Regulation long before it was officially mandated by the signing of the legislation. FDA plans to first publish its proposed rule by Spring 2012, after which a comment period will ensue. Before it drafts its rule, FDA solicited the input of farmers that would be affected by the regulation. They emphasized the regulations should:
• be appropriate and flexible
• be science-based and risk-based
• be practical—not overly burdensome
• apply to both imported produce and domestic produce
• be accompanied by a strong education and outreach program

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2011