In March, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a Leafy Greens Action Plan aimed at defining a set of preventive, responsive and evaluative measures to promote microbiological safety of leafy greens. Produce Marketing Association (PMA) shares FDA’s commitment to ensuring that fresh fruits and vegetables are produced, processed and distributed with the best science-based standards of care which ensure the least contribution to the burden to foodborne illness and continue to be a vital component of healthy diets.
The FDA announcement reads:
“We support efforts to provide end-to-end traceability and establish uniform traceability requirements, invest in a systems approach and critical path analysis of adjacent land risk and verifiable interventions. It goes without saying that many PMA members have already made exemplary voluntary efforts to commit to product traceability, and PMA itself took steps to promote these efforts through initiating the sunsetting of the use of generic UPC codes and providing timely education, training and support opportunities for our members and partners.
“We applaud FDA’s determination to continue to engage in conversations – in real time – with all stakeholders at critical times. PMA is committed to delineating the vision and opportunities for re-engaging and incentivizing the industry towards building a mutually beneficial data bank for sharing and analyzing data. FDA’s commitment to provide a timely analysis of the outbreak investigation reports to support a roadmap for prevention is highly welcomed. Further, we underscore the importance of collaboration in identifying opportunities for sustained longitudinal surveillance and capacity building for timely root-cause analyses. Clearly, timely root-cause analyses and opportunities to fill knowledge gaps, outside of immediate outbreak events, can only be successful when all parties share data. Mechanisms must be put in place to facilitate data collection and sharing and development of novel tools for predictive modeling to promote learning. In the process, we must engender trust, ensure protection of proprietary information and recognize efforts of those committed to participating in improving public health protection.
“The action plan contains a number of tactics, and it will be critical to work collaboratively to identify metrics for the efforts that the industry and our public health agency research and regulatory partners can commit to as well as resources needed to achieve our common goal of minimizing risks associated with the consumption of leafy greens and engendering trust in foods.”