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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued nonbinding, voluntary guidelines for how produce processors handle fresh cut fruit and vegetables before it reaches consumers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “the guidelines recommend the establishment of a formal program to cut down on food-borne illnesses. This includes knowing the practices of growers and transporters, instructing workers on good hygiene and on reporting their own illnesses, and several recommendations on how to operate food plants to cut down on bacterial contamination. Plant-operation guidelines include instructions on how to sanitize equipment and surfaces as well as recommendations on designing collection areas for wastewater and limiting the movement of people and equipment between receiving, storage and processing areas.”

The Journal notes that there are about 250 food processors in the US handling fresh produce and cutting/packing it for consumer use.
KC's View:
Clearly, these guidelines are a reaction to recent food safety issues, even though FDA says that there has been no measurable increase in foodborne illness outbreaks during the past few years.

But what we don’t completely get is why these are guidelines instead of regulations. If indeed adhering to these rules will make the food supply safer, would it make sense to require that people and companies live up to national and consistent standards. Otherwise, how do we know which fresh cut fruit is safe and which is not?