July 27, 2009….Ames, Iowa. Consumption of fresh produce in the United States has increased substantially in recent years, largely because consumers are more aware of the health benefits that come with a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Potentially significant food safety risks are associated with fresh produce, however, and it is important to manage these risks. CAST’s newest Commentary—Food Safety and Fresh Produce: An Update—brings together the current scientific research and recommended practices at the consumer level that will reduce the risk of produce-borne illness.
Fresh produce safety continues to be of paramount importance. While the fresh produce industry is striving to improve its food safety record, consumers must continue to be aware of practices in the home that raise the risk of contracting a foodborne illness from their fresh produce. This Commentary provides updated information on the biological hazards associated with fresh produce, recent trends in produce-related illness outbreaks, industry responses to food safety concerns, recommendations for consumers, and research and policy initiatives.
“Only a comprehensive food safety system, from farm to table, will minimize the risk of foodborne illness,” said Task Force Chair William McGlynn, Extension and Research Food Science Specialist, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. “Awareness and commitment by growers, processors, and consumers alike will help ensure that fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as well as healthy.”
“Food safety is an area of primary concern for consumers in this country, as evidenced in the Administration’s recent commitment to upgrade the U.S. food safety system,” said CAST Executive Vice President Dr. John Bonner. “CAST is pleased to offer timely, scientific information on the handling of fresh produce to minimize risks of contamination and illness.”
The full text of this Commentary (QTA2009-1) is available online only at the CAST website, www.cast-science.org, along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. All CAST Issue Papers and Commentaries are FREE. CAST is an international consortium of 33 scientific and professional societies. It assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.
* * *
Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.