Advice From the FDA on How Growers Can Keep Their Produce Safe

Advice From the FDA on How Growers Can Keep Their Produce Safe

Salmonella grown in a lab. Photo courtesy of FDA

Want tips that will keep your operation on the right side of FDA when it comes to food safety? American Vegetable Grower® decided the best advice would come directly from FDA itself.

We reached out to Jason Strachman Miller, a Health Communication Specialist in the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine at FDA.

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AVG: What tips do you give growers to help them respond to a recall?

Jason Strachman Miller: One of the best tips we can offer to growers is to proactively create a recall plan. This is helpful because when a recall occurs, the grower will already know what to do so that the product can be pulled off the market as quick as possible. Having a recall plan may also reduce the panic and anxiety that can accompany a recall because the grower will have a plan in place and know what to expect.

AVG: What are the most common reason for recalls?

Miller: Recalls can happen for a variety of reasons and may be conducted on a firm’s own initiative, by FDA request, or by FDA order under statutory authority. Please visit [the FDA industry guidance page] for more information on the various recall classes.

AVG: What advice do you have for a grower who is paying close attention to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules, and carefully documenting on-farm activity and tracing the produce from seed lot to store shelves?

Miller: One thing the FDA has found in the past when dealing with recalls is that the grower may or may not know the lot information along with the lot location, pick, etc. Without any of that information, a recall cannot be specific and may end up including more product than it otherwise could have because the grower has to include everything from that harvest, or day. It is important to have a good tracking system. So, our advice for growers who are adhering to (FSMA) rules and carefully tracking their products is to keep up the good work and we encourage you share your experience with fellow growers.

AVG: What kind of resources should a grower have on hand if something still goes wrong?

Miller: As noted in another question, growers should have a recall plan in place as well as appropriate information from our recall page.