Guides to safer tomatoes, leafy greens, melons issued

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published three draft guidances designed to help the growers, handlers and processors of tomatoes, leafy greens and melons minimize or eliminate microbial contamination. The guidances are, in part, based on those originally developed by the produce industry with assistance from the F.D.A. They represent the first step in a shift in strategy for the agency in the prevention of foodborne hazards associated with fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the agency.

"These guidances embody the Obama administration’s and F.D.A.’s prevention-oriented food safety strategy," said Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the F.D.A. "They will be made final as soon as possible after public comment, and will be followed within two years by enforceable standards for fresh produce."

The commodity-specific guidances were called for by the President’s Food Safety Working Group, which recommended a public-health focused approach to food safety.

The guidance for each commodity may be viewed by visiting www.fda.gov.

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