As it appears in the full-sized produce safety rule, here is the executive summary of the proposed regulation. A bite-sized morsel, as it were, compared to the full-length version. Initial industry reaction to the proposed rule appears measured, with some real disappointment that "low risk" commodities like citrus and tree fruit are not treated differently than vegetables grown on the ground.
Readers are welcome to react to what they read in the comments section. The FDA will be taking comments until May 16.
From the FDA:
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) (Pub. L. 111-353) requires FDA to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities for which we have determined such standards minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death. Further, new section 419 also requires FDA to adopt a final regulation based on known safety risks, setting forth procedures, processes, and practices that we determine to minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death, including those that are reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable hazards into produce and to provide reasonable assurances that produce is not adulterated under section 402 of the FD&C Act.
This proposed rule focuses on microbiological hazards related to produce growing, harvesting, packing, and holding. We conducted a “Draft Qualitative Assessment of Risk to Public Health from On-Farm Contamination of Produce” and considered the findings of this assessment in developing this proposed rule. While we acknowledge the potential for chemical, physical or radiological contamination of produce, for reasons discussed in this proposed rule, we are not proposing specific standards for these hazards in this rulemaking.
Scope of Coverage of the Proposed Rule
The proposed rule would apply to both domestic and imported produce. However, as explained in the remainder of this document, the proposed rule contains several exemptions:
• The proposed rule would not apply to certain specified produce commodities that are rarely consumed raw.
• The proposed rule also would not apply to produce that is used for personal or on-farm consumption, or that is not a raw agricultural commodity.
• The proposed rule would provide an exemption for produce that receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms (e.g. a “kill step”) as long as certain documentation is kept.