Concern Over FDA Food Safety Crop Grouping


There are fears over the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and what some see as an attempt to group all produce together when it comes to food safety risks.

Opposition to this focuses on the fact that ground crops such as lettuce and melons come into close contact with fertilizers and other potentially hazardous agents to a greater extent than, for example, tree fruits.

The FDA justifies its grouping of ground and tree crops by citing irrigation water; the proposed requirements direct that irrigation water that touches produce "be of safe and sanitary quality."

However, no evidence has yet been produced to show exposure to irrigation water carries a health risk.

Fruit warehouses, complying with retailers' wishes, have already adopted food safety programs that include washing fruit. Everyone from grower to retailer has a vested interest in a safe fruit supply, and so far the steps they have taken have worked.

Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council of Yakima, Wash., estimates implementation of the rules will annually cost growers between $12,000 and $30,000, depending on the size of the farm.