A UF/IFAS Extension agent shared guidance on complying with the Federal Produce Safety Rule for fresh citrus growers.

The Federal Produce Safety Rule is a component of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The rule, according to the FDA, aims to establish “science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.” Citrus Extension agent Chris Oswalt shared insight into the rule during a training at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred in February, according to a Citrus Industry article. See the details below.

Federal Produce Safety Rule Details

Oswalt shared information on the parts of the Federal Produce Safety Rule concerning the food-safety concern of domestic and wild animals in the grove. ““They can carry human pathogens in their feces” he explained.

It is important that animal feces not contaminate fresh fruit, and it is part of the rule, despite animals being “very difficult to control” and that having animals present “is natural and their presence is often unavoidable,” according to Oswalt. He recommended pets and domestic animals being exclude from produce fields and using fencing, noise deterrents, and other means to keep wild animals out of groves.

The handbook maintains that “Not harvesting fresh produce with fecal material seems pretty straight forward, but this requires all those who harvest to know that this is a requirement and to know how to avoid contamination.” Oswalt summed it up with, “The bottom line is if it’s contaminated, do not harvest it.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.