FDA recently took another step toward developing science- and risk-based safety standards aimed at preventing food safety problems in produce. The ultimate goal of such safety standards is one we all share: to reduce the risk of illness associated with fresh produce.
FDA is committed to doing this right. That's why we've been listening to people across the country who know produce. That includes people who are working day-to-day in production and packing. FDA has participated in listening sessions in states such as North Carolina, Florida, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Georgia, and Ohio. We will participate in even more sessions during the coming months, including visits to farming operations large and small. We continue to work closely with our food safety partners at the federal, state, and local levels and with experts from academia. We've even borrowed experts from USDA to help us as we develop this rule.
We want to make it as easy as possible for stakeholders to share their knowledge and concerns. That's why we've already opened a public docket to accept comments. This way, we're getting ahead of the game by actively engaging our stakeholders while we're developing the proposed rule that we plan to publish within the year.
This is your chance to let FDA know how best practices are being applied successfully—or point out areas where some practices just don't work. Please express your ideas and concerns on any issue involving produce production and packing. Since we opened the docket, we've heard from all parts of the country and all sizes of operations on water quality/standards; about the need to take into account small farmers who only sell locally; concerns about whether organic standards will be affected by FDA's proposed rule; and how FDA will balance wildlife issues with food safety standards. Some of the comments even thanked us for involving our stakeholders "ahead of the game"—for "asking (them) first" before the proposed rule is written.
So help us get this produce safety rule right.
Comments will be accepted until May 24, 2010. We look forward to hearing from you.
You can submit comments electronically via www.regulations.gov (put docket number FDA-2010-N-0085 in the "keyword" field) or by mail to Division of Dockets Management, HFA-305, FDA, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD, 20852.
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