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FDA Gathers Info On Produce Safety Standards

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The Produce Safety Project is pushing the FDA for fruits and vegetable standards to help prevent food borne illnesses.
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The Produce Safety Project is pushing the FDA for fruits and vegetable standards to help prevent food borne illnesses.

By Natalie Neumann

Farmers from across the region are planting their spring crops. But more than 200 of them took a break from their fields to discuss produce safety standards.

The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of establishing nation-wide regulations for growing, harvesting and packing fresh produce. They're looking at practices like irrigation, worker hygiene and how manure is being used as compost.

Guy Moore and his family run a "pick your own" farm in Woodbine, Maryland. They grow fruits and vegetables like beets, berries, and apples. He isn't against regulations.

"We'll have safe food, more fruits and vegetables eaten by everybody and farmers can make a living," says Moore.

But he's concerned about one size fits all regulations, that would cover farmers from different regions of the U.S. as well as small farms and large scale growers.

Jim O'Hara is director of the Produce Safety Project. He says right now there's too much variation.

"For the most part it's sort of a patchwork quilt of standards," says O'Hara.

O'Hara says he'd like to see rules that reduce food borne illnesses, but also makes sense for farmers.

The FDA plans to have proposed standards by October.

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