March 12, 2007
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today published a draft final guidance document for processors of fresh-cut produce entitled "Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables" (the Guide). The shehe's recommendations are designed to minimize microbial food safety hazards common to the processing of most fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, often sold to consumers in a ready-to-eat form. Fresh cut produce is a fast growing sector of the fresh produce industry.
The Guide complements FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations (21 CFR 110) and provides a framework for identifying and implementing appropriate measures to minimize the risk of microbial contamination during the processing of fresh-cut produce. Specifically, it discusses the production and harvesting of fresh produce and provides recommendations for fresh-cut processing in several areas-- (1) personnel health and hygiene, (2) training, (3) facilities and equipment, (4) sanitation operations, and (5) fresh-cut produce production and processing controls from product specification to packaging, storage and transport. The Guide also provides recommendations on recordkeeping and on recalls and tracebacks.
The Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables is accessible on the FDA Website.
FDA's press release announcing the availability of the Guide is available at FDA Issues Final Guidance For Safe Production of Fresh-Cut Fruits And Vegetables.
Consumers can reduce their risk of illness from fresh-cut produce by following safe handling practices such as refrigerating the product after purchase; using only clean hands, utensils or dishes in preparing the product; and discarding the product when the "use by" date has expired. More information on safe handling practices of produce can be found at the Partnership for Food Safety Education.