By SUSAN MYKRANTZ
WOOSTER, Ohio — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scheduled additional listening sessions to give producers the opportunity to voice their concerns about the proposed new food safety rules for fresh produce.
A session is scheduled for April 30 from 1-4 p.m. in the Shisler Conference Center on the Wooster campus of Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), located at 1680 Madison Ave. OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The program is being hosted by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), OSU and extension and the Ohio Farm Bureau. The event is free, but registration is requested. Registration may be logged online at the ODA’s Food Safety webpage at http://bit.ly/FDAmtg
“Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, is scheduled to attend the session and will be available for questions,” said Ashley Kulhanek, agriculture and natural resource educator for extension. “Representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Farm Bureau will also be in attendance.”
The proposed Produce Safety Rule was published Jan. 16. It is one of the measures the FDA has taken to comply with the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. This proposed rule focuses on standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce on farms.
It is geared toward produce that is likely to be eaten fresh, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, sprouts and nuts. The safety rules do not apply to food such as potatoes or those destined for commercial canning. The rule applies to conventional and organic farms and to greenhouses; hydroponic produce is also included.
“Previously, the FDA held three public two-day meetings (in Washington, D.C., Oregon and Chicago) as required by the law,” Kulhanek explained. “Now the FDA is reaching out to more farmers in different regions. FDA has been hosted in North Carolina and Georgia recently for similar listening sessions.”
The public can also comment on the rule online or in writing by May 16. To comment, click the link from the Federal Register page, or go to www.regulations.gov and search for FDA-2011-N-0921.
The Federal Register page also includes instructions to submit comments in writing.