To minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death from consumption of contaminated produce, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is establishing science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce, meaning fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.
FDA is establishing these standards as part of implementation of the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. These standards do not apply to produce that is rarely consumed raw, produce for personal or on-farm consumption, or produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity. In addition, produce that receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance is eligible for exemption from the requirements of this rule. The rule sets forth procedures, processes, and practices that minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death, including those reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable biological hazards into or onto produce and to provide reasonable assurances that the produce is not adulterated on account of such hazards. The FDA expects the rule to reduce foodborne illness associated with the consumption of contaminated produce.
While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, the Federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually—the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. Each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. These cases have driven authorities to seriously consider methods and regulations that help prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
Most foodborne illnesses can be avoided if you take the following precautionary steps:
CLEAN: Always wash your food, hands, counters, and cooking tools.
- Wash hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday while washing and the 20 seconds will be over). Do this before and after touching food.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, forks, spoons, knives and counter tops with hot soapy water. Do this after working with each food item.
- Rinse fruits and veggies well
- Clean the lids on canned goods before opening.
SEPARATE (Keep Apart): Keep raw foods apart from other raw foods. Germs can spread from one food to another.
- Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods in the shopping cart, bags, and the refrigerator.
- Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless first brought to a boil first.
- Use a separate cutting board and utensils for raw meats, and a designated plate and clean utensils for raw foods. This prevents cross-contamination.