Date: October 27, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
Judith Foulke: 202-205-4144
Broadcast Media: 301-827-3434
Consumer Inquiries: 800-532-4440
GUIDE FOR THE SAFE PRODUCTION OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES NOW AVAILABLE
The Food and Drug Administration today announced the availability of a guide for growers, packers and shippers of fresh fruits and vegetables, which provides information on agricultural and management practices they may apply in order to enhance the safety of their fresh produce.
The document provides science-based guidance that will help reduce microbiological hazards common to the growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing and transporting of fruits and vegetables. These microbiological pathogens can cause foodborne illness in those who eat contaminated produce.
The document, titled "Guidance for Industry: Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables," was prepared in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to a presidential directive on food safety issued in October 1997. The guide is intended for use by both domestic producers of raw agricultural products and for foreign producers who would export such products to the United States. FDA is coordinating the effort for HHS.
"Agricultural products -- fruits, vegetables and grains -- provide the basis of a healthy diet," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "Americans enjoy one of the safest supplies of fresh produce in the world, and the President has made the continuing safety of these foods a high priority. Public health agencies are working together with the agricultural industry to maintain that high level of safety."
Categories of production practices covered by the guide include control of water, manure and biosolids, worker health and hygiene, field and facility sanitation, and transportation. The guidance also includes suggestions on how to maintain records to aid in tracing food items back to the source to help identify and eliminate the pathway of a pathogen associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.
"This guidance to the agriculture industry is based on the best science available along with careful consultation with the people who are actually in the business of producing fruits and vegetables," said Michael A. Friedman, M.D., FDA Acting Commissioner.
FDA and USDA held a series of public meetings with the agricultural community and site visits to growing and packing areas to elicit detailed suggestions on the agencies' broad approach to the common problems involved in the production of safe produce. On April 13, 1998, FDA published in the Federal Register a draft of the proposed guidance document and asked for comments from interested persons. FDA considered these comments along with others from additional public meetings in preparing the final document.
The document is intended as voluntary guidance -- not a regulation -- for producers, packers and shippers of fresh produce.
FDA plans to make this guidance document widely available. It will be mailed to participants of the public meetings held during development of the document, and to the embassies of nations exporting fresh produce to the United States. It will also be sent to U.S. embassies abroad, and will be translated into other languages. FDA and USDA plan to provide education on the guide's elements to domestic fresh fruit and vegetable growers and processors and technical assistance to foreign growers and processors.
Single copies of the guide are available by written request to: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-32), 200 C St. SW, Washington, DC 20204
The guide is also accessible via the FDA home page on the World Wide Web (http://www.fda.gov).
Note: HHS press releases are available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.hhs.gov.