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Food :: US rules for growers to combat food poisoning

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today published a draft final guidance advising processors of fresh-cut produce how to minimize microbial food safety hazards common to the processing of most fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, which are often sold to consumers in a ready-to-eat form.

The document — “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables” (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/prodgui3.html)– suggests that fresh-cut processors consider a state-of-the-art food safety program such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, which is designed to prevent, eliminate, or reduce to acceptable levels the microbial, chemical, and physical hazards associated with food production.

The guidance complements FDA?s regulations of manufacturing practices and incorporates comments received in response to its draft issued in March 2006. The current version will not be final until the White House Office of Management and Budget completes an authorization step required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the agency announces that the guidance is final.

“Ensuring the safety of the American food supply is one of this Agency?s top priorities,” said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs. ” Americans are eating more fresh-cut produce, which we encourage as part of a healthy diet. But fresh cut-produce is one area in which we see foodborne illness occur. Offering clearer guidance to industry should aid in the reduction of health hazards that may be introduced or increased during the fresh-cut produce production process.”

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