New FDA water guidelines focus on ‘systems-based’ assessments
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a draft of its revised guidelines “for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption Relating to Agricultural Water.”
The previous provisions requiring microbial testing for pre-harvest agricultural water have been replaced by more comprehensive “systems-based agricultural water assessments,” in the words of the draft statement.
Frank Yiannas, FDA deputy commissioner for food policy and response, said:
“The proposed revisions are intended to address stakeholder concerns about complexity and practical implementation challenges while protecting public health. These proposed revisions to the produce safety regulation, if finalized, would more comprehensively address a known route of microbial contamination that can lead to preventable foodborne illness that is a significant public health problem.”
Jennifer McEntire, senior vice president for food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, said:
“We are still working our way through the details of the proposed rule but overall feel that it represents an approach to managing agricultural water that would allow the incorporation of new scientific information, and the use of tools to manage risks, as they evolve over time. The proposed approach moves away from the ‘one size fits all’ and ‘check the box’ approaches. We’ve got a member group that’s ready to start working on comments and we look forward to continued dialogue with FDA.”