Good Fruit Grower

January 2016

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26 JANUARY 1, 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Research will help inform the FDA and producers as the Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented. by Geraldine Warner R esearch by scientists in Washington and other parts of the country could influ- ence what will be required from tree fruit growers and packers as the Food and Drug Administration implements new food safety regulations. Since the Food Safety Modernization Act became law in 2011, the FDA has been developing a series of rules covering food production, handling, transportation, importation and auditing, with the focus on preventing food-related illnesses. Kate Woods, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, said the FDA, which had never before regulated farms, began proposing very prescriptive rules governing on-farm practices. However, there was not much data showing the safety or health risks to consumers posed b y c u r r e n t g r o w i n g practices for different types of produce. For example, little was known about which pathogens farmers should test for in water and at what levels the water could be considered safe for application to tree fruit if pathogens are present. Nor was it known where the water should be sampled within the irrigation system to get the most accurate reading, or what the best mitigation measures might be. Growers are covered by the Produce Safety Rule (stan- dards for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce). Most Northwest tree fruit growers irrigate from open canal systems, and the initial version of the rule (proposed in January 2013) included water stan- dards that seemed completely unachievable in terms of how frequently growers would be required to test their water supply and what they should do if results came in at unacceptable levels, Woods said. After receiving feedback and releasing an interim draft of the rule for public comment, the FDA published the final rule on Nov. 27. It includes slightly more workable standards and requirements for produce growers and some flexibility should future scientific studies show different methods that would allow producers to meet FDA's standards for human health protection. Research Woods said research is being done around the coun- try, some of it funded by the Center for Produce Safety, to fill in the gaps and provide information that will be critical as the regulations are implemented. For exam- ple, Dr. Karen Killinger, former food safety specialist at Washington State University, and Dr. Ines Hanrahan, project manager with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, have been working on projects relating to food safety in the orchard and packing house. (See "Food safety research focuses on packing" on page 28.) The final Produce Safety Rule is 801 pages long, and Woods said that, as of press time for this issue of Good Fruit Grower, the Northwest Horticultural Council and other produce organizations were still analyzing and seeking clarifications from FDA on exactly how it will impact growers. However, as was expected based on previous versions, the rule will require growers to test their water and take certain actions should microbial tests come back above a set threshold close to harvest. The rule appears to provide options for science-based alternatives to certain parts of the new water require- ments created in the rule. It's hoped that, based on data from current or future research, the FDA will be able to give growers flexibility in setting and achieving these standards and not force them to meet requirements unnecessary for human health protection. The research also will provide growers with information to help them implement the rules. Gathering data for FOOD SAFETY Kate Woods Everything for Every Farmer... ...Under One Roof. The Northwest's Largest Ag Show! Ticket Prices (12 & Under Free!) Single Day: $10/Adult, $8/Senior Multi-Day: $18/Adult, $14/Senior Parking: $8 ($7 Carpool) Free Parking on Thursday! Attending a Grower Meeting? Get in FREE with your name badge! Location: Portland Expo Center | 2060 N Marine Dr. | Portland, OR 97217 | | January 26-28, 2016 | Portland Expo Center FAMILY DAY - Wednesday Get the whole family in on one $20 ticket! 9AM - 8PM FFA Day Tuesday 9AM - 6PM Sponsored by Premier Northwest Insurance Free Parking Day Thursday 9AM-3PM Sponsored by Kubota Tractor Corporation Sponsored by Northwest Farm Credit Services The Northwest's Largest Ag Show! January 26-28, 2016 | Portland Expo Center Everything for Every Farmer... ...Under One Roof.

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