The FDA has published three draft guidances designed to help growers and others in the food supply chain minimize or eliminate microbial contamination in tomatoes, leafy greens and melons.

“These new food safety guidelines will facilitate the development of enforceable food safety standards and ensure a safer supply of fresh food for all Americans,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD.

The guidances will be made final after a public comment period and “will be followed within two years by enforceable standards for fresh produce,” she says.

The recommendations are based on three fundamental food safety principles:

  • Prevent harm to consumers
  • Use good data and analysis to ensure effective food safety inspections and enforcement of the law
  • Quickly identify outbreaks of foodborne illness and stop them

The guidances include recommendations regarding produce growing, harvesting, packing, processing, transportation and distribution. Recordkeeping requirements are also included to enable the FDA to rapidly determine the source of future outbreaks.

The actions taken “will result in safer food in our country, which means healthier children, longer lives and less costly healthcare,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

“We commend the FDA for moving forward on initiatives to improve the safety of fresh produce,” adds Jim O’Hara, director of the Produce Safety Project at Georgetown University. “The proposed guidance documents put out for comment address three of the highest-risk commodities, and we hope that the agency will finalize these documents quickly. We also look forward to the agency’s next steps regarding produce safety: issuance of proposed regulations. Science-based, risk-based, enforceable safety standards will restore consumer confidence in foods that are key components of a healthy diet.”

To view the actual draft guidances, follow these links: