SAN ANTONIO — A meeting to discuss the draft version of new federal guidelines for ensuring the safety fresh fruits and vegetables will be held Dec. 8 in the Helotes 4-H Center, 12132 Leslie Road in Helotes. The meeting will be from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration are drafting a Good Agricultural Practices guide as part of President Clinton’s recently-announced initiative to ensure the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The meeting in Helotes is one of six being held across the nation to gather feedback from the public.
FDA officials said that the Good Agricultural Practices will not create new federal requirements or regulations for farmers but will provide “guidance on sound practices that will help minimize microbial contamination of produce.” The guide is to be useful for both U.S. farmers and foreign producers who import into the United States.
Topics covered in the guide will include water, manure, worker sanitation and health, field and facility sanitation, and transportation and handling. The guide will be on the web beginning Dec. 1 at http://www.fda.gov.
Dr. Al Wagner, Texas Agricultural Extension Service food technologist, said Texas fruit and vegetable growers should attend the meeting to learn about the Good Agricultural Practices and provide comments as to how they might impact the industry. But, he said, little is known about the proposed guidelines at this point. FDA officials have said that input from the meetings nationwide will help them complete the guidelines.