The Food Safety Modernization Act’s requirements on the use of animal manures in fresh produce production could affect the mushroom industry, which uses horse and poultry manure as a specialized growth substrate.
Heat generated during the traditional composting process, which was originally developed to kill insect and fungal pests, is adequate for eliminating human pathogens that might be present, according to researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
The research shows food safety rules won’t place any new restrictions on the mushroom industry composting process, according to a news release.
The “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” also known as the Produce Safety Standards, could affect mushroom growers the most, study co-author Luke LaBorde, an associate professor of food science and a Penn State Extension specialist in farm food safety, said in the release.
The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules are similar to the Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices program or MGAPs, a set of voluntary farm safety standards developed by the American Mushroom Institute and Penn State’s Department of Food Science, LaBorde said in the release.
Among MGAP’s core principles is a guideline calling for careful management in the use of animal products in substrate, casing or supplement preparation in order to minimize the potential for microbial contamination of mushrooms, according to the release.
Animal manure is a source of many human pathogens and crop contamination with animal feces and has been linked to foodborne outbreaks.
The new standards propose a nine-month interval between application of raw manure and harvesting, according to the release.
Any composting treatment that claims to reduce levels of human pathogens must be scientifically valid and meets or exceeds specific microbial standards, according to the release.
The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Food Protection at http://psu.ag/1bBevBY.