PMA Testifies on Industry Response to Produce Safety Challenges

NEWARK, Del. - A Produce Marketing Association representative testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday before the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, detailing the measures the produce industry has taken lately to assure the safety of fresh produce.

The PMA official, Lorna Christie, s.v.p. of industry products and services, updated the subcommittee members on PMA's food safety activities, including the association's recent investment of $2 million to fund the Center for Produce Safety at University of California in Davis.

The purpose of the hearing was for the subcommittee to learn about recent actions the produce industry has taken to address the safety of fresh and fresh-cut produce.

Christie mentioned PMA's commitment to work with federal and state government including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other produce industry partners. She also outlined examples of PMA's work with other produce organizations including establishing commodity-specific food safety guidance, encouraging the adoption of technology that will facilitate rapid tracebacks, and creating best practices guidelines.

Christie praised the work done to establish a California Lettuce and Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, but also recommended:
* prioritizing food safety efforts based commodity-specific risk factors,
* creating a strong Farm Bill to address the interest of specialty crops and the need for food safety research and technical assistance in order for companies to maximize food safety capabilities,
* using clear language that differentiates products in question and does not portray all produce as risky,
* creating a robust federal effort that is verifiable and applies to any products grown in the U.S. or abroad,
* establishing a federal effort to define specific needs for traceability in order to work with the industry to create tools that can quickly help narrow the scope of any future outbreak, and
* demonstrating our commitment to public health by collaborating our efforts with all who are able to advance produce safety.
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