FDA is Seeking Input Before Developing New Produce Food Safety Rules

Gordon Johnson Extension Fruit & Vegetable Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that by the end of 2010, the agency will issue a proposed rule to establish safety standards for the production and packing of fresh produce. The stated goal is “to reduce the risk of illness associated with fresh produce”.

Unlike past rule making efforts where experts devise the rules and the FDA seeks comments on the proposed rules, they are asking for input beforehand. In other words, they want your guidance in developing the rules. The FDA has stated that they need “the expertise and on-the-ground knowledge of those who grow, harvest and pack fresh produce”. They further state that “Doing it this way will help (the FDA) develop the scope of the rule to reflect the realities of production and packing in produce operations”.

To seek input, the FDA has opened a docket (Federal Register notice location: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-3409.pdf) to receive information before a proposed rule is written. You may input your comments electronically to the FDA by going to www.Regulations.gov and entering the following in the “Keyword” field: FDA-2010-N-0085. This will take you directly to the docket, “Preventive Controls for Fresh Produce: Request for Comments”. In the far right of the screen under “Actions”, click on “Submit a Comment”. A page will come up asking for some information about you or your organization. You can then type your comment directly into the field provided and/or you can attach any related documents to your comment. Press “Submit” and then you will be able to view your comment and comments others have submitted.

If you prefer to submit written comments, write the docket number at the top of the pages in your written submissions (FDA-2010-N-0085) and mail comments to:

Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, Maryland 20852

The comment period for this “Preventive Controls for Fresh Produce: Request for Comments” docket ends on May 24, 2010 so get your comments in soon.

In Delaware, the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association will be submitting both electronic and written comments to the FDA on behalf of its members. A committee of the FVGAD is being set up to do this. Any members wishing to serve on that committee should contact Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable and Fruit Specialist at the University of Delaware, gcjohn@udel.edu, phone (302) 856-7303.