FDA Introduces Fresh-Cut Produce Guidelines

The FDA introduced guidelines for fresh-cut produce processing today, in the hopes of reducing incidents of contamination. From CNNMoney:

The FDA noted fresh-cut or prepackaged produce like spinach, lettuce and fruit is the fastest-growing segment of the $12 billion annual produce industry.

In the past 10 years, the FDA said there’s been 72 outbreaks of food-borne illnesses from contamination with bacteria such as E.coli. Since last summer, there’s been high-profile illness outbreaks associated with fresh spinach and with shredded lettuce at Taco Bell and Taco John’s restaurants. Taco Bell is a unit of Yum Brands Inc. (YUM).

The agency said processing produce into fresh-cut product increases the risk of bacterial contamination and growth by breaking the natural exterior barrier of the produce by peeling, slicing, coring, or trimming the produce before it’s packed for consumer use. The increased risk remains even if the produce is washed before packaging.

The FDA said that about half of US fresh-cut produce processing plants did not have guidelines in place. According the the FDA, “consumers can reduce their risk of illness from fresh-cut produce by following safe handling practices such as refrigerating the product after purchase, and using clean hands and utensils to handle the product as well and eating or discarding the product by the “use by” date. And, of course, you could always cut your own lettuce…doesn’t it look yummy?—MEGHANN MARCO

FDA Issues Fresh-Cut Produce Guidelines [CNNMoney]
(Photo: strph)

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  1. acambras says:

    I always learned that you should wash your produce right before you use it, not when you bring it home, because washing then storing it makes it go bad faster.

    I wonder: (1) if that’s true? and (2) if it’s washed before packaging (e.g., bagged spinach), does that reduce its shelf life?

  2. QuirkyRachel says:

    Well doesn’t the moisture make it decay faster? I know my mom says to always wash the pre-packaged stuff before using it anyway.

  3. Disgruntled CC Employee says:

    Does the vegetable wash stuff make it any safer than soap. I would bet Doc Bronners soap does at least as good a job.

  4. pambamboo says:

    From an editorial I just read in an oldish Mother Jones – by feeding cattle corn instead of the grass they’re meant to eat, they get very bad intestinal illness. This has created the first untreatable/never goes away form of e coli. From the cattle’s feces into the ground water and straight into the cell structures of lettuce and spinach growing on nearby farms. Thus the contamination we’ve been seeing isn’t coming from improperly handled greens – this shit can’t be washed off, ladies and gents! It’s in the structure of the plant.

  5. Uurp says:

    I wash my veggies with Dawn.

  6. poornotignorant says:

    Isn’t it a fact that vitamins and minerals dissipate as soon as fruit and vegetables are cut?