The Monterey County Herald reports that the Food and Drug Administration has issued its first set of safety guidelines for the way fresh-cut produce companies process bagged salad, apple slices and cut celery sticks.
The release of the guidelines follows a scathing November letter in which the FDA urged fresh-cut producers to do more to protect consumers from food-borne illness outbreaks. Eight outbreaks have been traced to Salinas Valley lettuce and spinach in the past decade, according to the FDA.
The recommendations were developed with the help of the produce industry, the same manufacturers the FDA regulates. Unlike an FDA “farm-to-table” action plan released in 2004, the 64-page draft document focuses strictly on activities in processing facilities, particularly those involving workers’ hygiene.
The FDA is accepting written comments on the guidelines for the next 60 days.