Monday, July 7, 2008

Emergency Rule Making: Produce tracing.

Consumer groups have organized to push for immediate action on food safety legislation from
"The groups say the system could be very simple: placing little stickers on fruits and vegetables at the point of origin. The industry already has standard price look-up codes, or PLUs, that retailers can use at the register. Tomatoes that bear a sticker with the number 4087 are red Roma tomatoes, for instance.
Similar standardized codes could let retailers, food safety investigators, or even curious consumers know exactly what farm a given bunch of asparagus or bag of spinach hails from, the say.
"Each outbreak causes huge losses, both for the consumers who become severely ill and for the growers, who often can't sell their products," said CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal. ""Unfortunately, as this investigation has dragged on, the produce industry is reaping what it sowed when it sought and received special exemptions that allowed the industry to avoid the country of origin labeling requirements Congress passed in 2002."
"While new requirements are scheduled to go into effect later this year, FDA needs to go beyond country of origin labeling and give public health officials the ability to trace produce from the fork back to the farm," DeWaal said read more

Letter to Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, Commissioner ,Food and Drug Administration

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