The public and industry had the opportunity this week to hear FDA representatives talk about a proposed rule regarding how to make water used in the growing of fresh produce safer.
The session with the Food and Drug Administration officials included about 30 minutes for comments from the audience, which consisted of three-minutes each from industry spokespeople.
During one portion of the five-hour session a representative from the Center for Science in the Public Interest provided comments about public welfare issues concerning the proposed water safety rule. That portion of the session also included a presentation by a representative of Western Growers, which is a group of produce growers in western states.
One thing the government speakers and other commenters had in common was the fact that the ag water rule is complicated. They all also said the proposed rule is more flexible than the one-size-fits-all proposal previously put forward by the Food and Drug Administration.
The agency has been working on the rule regarding agricultural water requirements under the Produce Rule since 2013. The rule is one of the mandates included in the federal Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011. It covers water safety issues for fresh fruits and vegetables. It has a special section for the production of sprouts that is already in place.
Provisions of the proposed water rule do not include most small farmers, if their annual income generated by their sales of fresh produce is less than $25,000. Many of those growers use organic methods.