(UPDATED COVERAGE, Feb. 28) The Food and Drug Administration’s first meeting on proposed food safety rules will be Feb. 28-March 1, and a closer look at the proposed regulations has generated plenty of passion, one industry leader said.

Before the FDA meeting, the United Fresh Produce Association convened two working groups Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the FDA’s proposed rules. United Fresh officials will comment on the rules at the FDA’s Feb. 28 meeting, said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications.

Gilmer said that the working groups — one addressing the produce safety rule and the other examining the preventive control safety rule for food facilities — had spirited discussions Feb. 27.

The groups exposed some concerns about FDA assumptions about the science of the proposed regulations, Gilmer said.

In testimony Feb. 28, David Gombas, United Fresh’s senior vice president of food safety and technology, said the industry remains concerned about exemptions for smaller operations. In addition, he said there are concerns on how the produce safety rule will relate to other rules coming from the FDA.

The FDA has public comment meetings on the proposed food safety rules, March 11 in Chicago and March 27 in Portland, Ore.

The United Fresh groups plan to meet online or in person just before each of those meetings

“It may depend on how much progress we’re making in the next couple of days,” Gilmer said Feb. 27.