Foodborne pathogen fears spark change in the produce processing industry

There has been no shortage of foodborne pathogen stories in the news, lately. There has also been plenty of activity to enact new safety and traceability standards in produce processing. Predictably, some of it comes from the government, but food industry players are also taking proactive steps toward consistently healthier foods.

Progress continues as industry and government representatives pursue dialogue on how best to improve food safety.

The Produce Marketing Association recently offered comments about the FDA’s docket on produce safety, whose purpose was to shape the development of safety standards. PMA commentary included suggestions of better FDA definitions of produce-specific food safety standards; data sharing between the FDA and industry players; and equality of produce safety standards, no matter what the size of the operation. Read the full article.

Statistically speaking, foodborne pathogen-related outbreaks (two or more similar illnesses resulting from ingestion of a common food) were down an average of eight percent during 2007 (the most recent year for which data is available), compared to annual averages from 2002-2006. The total number of foodborne pathogen-related illnesses for the same period were down 15 percent compared to 2002-2006 averages. We’re getting better, but there is always room for improvement, and the produce processing industry is leading the charge admirably.

More articles on safety initiatives related to foodborne pathogens:

Florida Growers Develop Food Safety Standards

FDA, USDA, Cornell announce new produce safety initiative

Election Unlikely to Change S. 510 Fate in Senate

Produce Traceability Initiative

Takeover May Cool House Passion for Food Safety

DeLauro: ‘Imperative’ to Fix Food Safety System

Annual foodborne illness averages down 15%: CDC

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Wynn Ponder is a freelance writer who covers industrial, science and health care topics. He is also owner of Wichita video and marketing firm Ponder:Connect.