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  1. FDA In Brief

FDA In Brief: Readout of Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas’s visit to the Yuma produce growing region

December 6, 2019

Media Inquiries

  Peter Cassell
  240-402-6537

The following quote is attributed to Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas:

“As the food system continues to evolve, the FDA is committed to ensuring innovative food safety approaches that build on past accomplishments and leverage new technologies and analytical tools. Our goal is to create a digital, traceable and smarter food system that streamlines processes while mining a greater amount of information.

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting Yuma, Arizona, an important growing region in the U.S. and one that exemplifies our ever changing and complex food system. As we continue to implement the Produce Safety Rule established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it is vital to discuss critical food safety issues with leaders and stakeholders, including growers, to ensure the safety of produce in general, and more specifically, fresh leafy greens.

We are happy that many in industry have taken steps like the adoption of voluntary date and provenance labeling and traceability best practices, but we know more must be done. Producers must continue to review all aspects of their growing, harvesting and processing practices, and all segments of the supply chain must continue to improve traceability to enhance food safety.

Food safety is not a competitive issue, so it was helpful to hear firsthand from growers in Yuma about their romaine lettuce outbreak in 2018 and actions they have taken to prevent a reoccurrence, as other states struggle with similar issues. The lessons we learned from last year’s outbreak in Yuma are proving valuable as we are investigating another outbreak associated with romaine from the Salinas, California growing region. While we can’t prevent every outbreak from happening, by sharing and learning from others, we can limit consumers’ exposure to pathogens.

Safe and high-quality food for consumers doesn’t happen by chance. It’s the result of implementing preventive controls and establishing a culture of food safety that is people-led, FSMA-based, and increasingly technology-enabled .”

Related Information

  • Deputy Commissioner Yiannas spoke with a wide variety of stakeholders about the recommendations the FDA has made to all sectors of the leafy green industry and about the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative, which is aimed at continuing to modernize our food safety system.
  • On Dec. 2, Deputy Commissioner Yiannas spoke at the fifth annual Arizona Agribusiness Roundtable about the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative and the importance of continuing to modernize our food safety system. The 2019 roundtable focused on a wide range of issues and brought together farmers, ranchers, agribusiness financiers, equipment suppliers, crop and livestock support services, energy and water providers, agricultural educators, veterinarians and other agribusiness representatives to discuss major issues facing the region.
  • On Dec. 3, Deputy Commissioner Yiannas visited the Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage Canal and surrounding fields that were associated with the 2018 E.coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. He also visited nearby harvesting operations and met with local growers. Immediately following his visit to the site, he met with the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association to discuss the future of traceability and the importance of food safety. Deputy Commissioner Yiannas then met with a group of students at Arizona Western College about their interest in careers in food safety.
  • Deputy Commissioner Yiannas’s two-day tour of farms and meeting with growers, industry professionals, regulators and students are part of the agency’s commitment to usher the U.S. into a New Era of Smarter Food Safety, together.

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The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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