(Nov. 19) There was no formal response as of Nov. 15 from the Food Safety Leadership Council on the outreach from 23 trade associations in a Nov. 14 letter.

However, Tom Stenzel is optimistic council members will meet with produce suppliers and association leaders to hear concerns about the council’s on-farm produce safety standards.

The council includes Publix Supermarkets Inc., Lakeland, Fla.; Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.; Darden Restaurants, Orlando, Fla.; McDonald’s Corp., Oak Brook, Ill.; Avendra LLC, Rockville, Md.; and Walt Disney World Co., Burbank, Calif.

“We’ve got to resolve these issues together; it won’t do anybody any good to start developing all sorts of different standards, said Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

Both produce suppliers and some retailers and other foodservice operators have voiced concerns about the work of the council, he said.

Stenzel believes some of the council’s actions are driven by concerns about legal liability, he said.

“You want to know you have done everything you can do to ensure the safety of your product,” he said.

Stenzel said federal regulations on food safety may provide a more secure baseline of food safety for buyers.

“If you prove you can comply with what the government public health authorities said you should do, there is a degree of liability protection there that is really important,” he said. Still, he said there may be no way to preclude buyers from setting even tougher standards.