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WASHINGTON -- The Food Marketing Institute here is voicing its support of the United Fresh Produce Association's call to advocate federal oversight of science-based produce safety standards.
"In the aftermath of recent produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks, the entire industry has come together to find ways to improve the safety of fresh produce, to further protect public health and to maintain consumer confidence in produce as the foundation for healthy diets for all Americans," said Tim Hammonds, FMI's president and c.e.o.
"FMI applauds the United Fresh Produce Association for taking a leadership role in developing guiding principles that will ultimately lead to federal food safety policies to improve fresh produce safety. This regulatory framework provides the foundation which, when coupled with industry best practices and a rigorous verification program, will strengthen the safety of our food supply," added Hammonds.
On the heels of the Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers Association's proposed marketing agreement for California leafy greens, Tom Stenzel, United Fresh's president and c.e.o., late last week sent a letter of support to A.G. Kawamura, secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture.
Calling the marketing agreement "an important immediate step to assuring the public that the California leafy greens industry is taking all appropriate measures to provide the safest possible foods," Stenzel reiterated United Fresh's commitment to pursue comprehensive federal oversight of all fresh produce, regardless of production region, both within and outside the United States.
"The standards being developed for lettuce and leafy greens in California are a major step in that direction, and we look forward to continuing to work with CDFA and our member companies in California to promote adoption of these standards," wrote Stenzel.
"As our organization continues to pursue comprehensive federal oversight of all fresh produce safety," Stenzel said the marketing agreement will "go a long way to building and maintaining public confidence in our products by adopting strong and rigorous standards such as those planned in the leafy greens agreement."