( FDA )

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeking data to determine if produce commodities with low reported consumption should be added to the “rarely consumed raw” list and thereby exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. 

The FDA issued is asking for comments through early November.

When the FDA published the Produce Safety Rule, the agency said it included a list of produce commodities that are almost always consumed after being cooked. Cooking is a “kill step” that can be expected to adequately reduce microorganisms of public health significance in most cases.

The FDA used data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey/What We Eat in America dataset and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Commodity Intake Database. Using those sources, the FDA added produce commodities to the “rarely consumed raw” if they met three criteria:

  • It is eaten raw by less than 0.1% of the U.S. population;
  • It is eaten raw on less than 0.1% of eating occasions;
  • At least 1% of the weighted number of survey respondents reported eating it cooked or raw to provide a reasonable representation of how it’s eaten.

The FDA said several commodities satisfied the first two criteria, but data did not show consumption of the commodity in any form by at least 1% of survey respondents. Those are referred to as “produce commodities with low reported consumption.”

Some other commodities did not appear in the data at all, which the FDA refers to as “produce commodities with no reported consumption.”The request for information has a list of commodities with low reported consumption, including: artichokes, brussels sprouts, bok choy, chayote, gooseberries, guavas, jicama, kale, leeks, passion fruit, plantains, pomegranates, rhubarb, and starfruit.

Arrowroot and fiddleheads are the only examples of “produce commodities wiht no reported consumption.

Based on input provided, the agency said it may consider to exercise “enforcement discretion” for little-consumed produce items.

The agency said any submitted data should clearly how much of the item is consumed after cooking compared to how many people eat it raw.

Comments will be accepted online.

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