The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published three draft guidance documents, with industry input, that provide recommended practices to prevent foodborne hazards associated with fresh produce. The documents pertain specifically to tomatoes, leafy greens and melons and “provide a guide for growers and processors to follow so they may better protect their produce from becoming contaminated,” according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

With specific suggestions ranging from clean water supplies to human hygiene, key elements include (i) an acceptable baseline standard of industry practices that help domestic and foreign firms minimize microbial contamination risks throughout the entire supply chain; (ii) specific recommendations relating to growing, harvesting, packing, processing, transporting, and distributing the product; and (iii) recordkeeping recommendations to help FDA quickly trace back to the source when an outbreak occurs. The agency is asking that comments on the drafts be submitted within 90 days from publication in the Federal Register. See USDA News Release, July 31, 2009.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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