Brady Dennis’s April 9 article "FDA food rules yield harvest of opposition" reported why some tree fruit farmers want to be exempted from new rules on produce safety, but it did not fully explain why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes to include them as part of a science-based, preventive approach to reducing the risk of food-borne illness in produce.
The FDA proposed to exempt produce such as potatoes that rarely are eaten raw and commercially processed produce such as canned spinach because they present a low risk of food-borne illness. The types of produce the FDA proposed to cover have one or more pathways through which they can become contaminated. The FDA is proposing that farmers control only pathways that are relevant to their crop. This can include using clean water, not harvesting produce visibly contaminated by animals, using manure safely, having harvest workers wash their hands and keeping equipment clean.
We are working with the food industry to fashion workable food safety rules and will consider carefully the concerns and ideas of the tree fruit industry and our many other stakeholders. In the end, we all will be better off with food safety rules that both work for America’s farmers and protect America’s consumers.
Deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration