Guidances: An overview
Guidances can be very useful tools to help producers and buyers develop food safety programs for their specific operations. A guidance is not a food safety program or a regulation. A properly developed food safety guidance should outline potential cross contamination risk areas and may suggest management practices that could be employed to reduce the risks.
A brief history of food safety guidances
There have been a large number of food safety guidances developed for the produce industry over the last two decades. Certainly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has used guidances as a form of outreach to the produce industry to help operators develop comprehensive, risk-based food safety programs.
Perhaps the core guidance document was FDA's 1998 Guide to Minimize Microbial Risks in Fruits and Vegetables which became known as Good Agricultural Practices or GAPs. FDA has also issued and drafted food safety guidances on specific commodities; leafy greens, tomatoes and melons.
The produce industry and guidances
The produce industry has also developed a number of guidances; most of which have been aimed at specific commodities.
Grower groups, buyers, trade associations and government have generally collaborated to examine contamination risk factors for that specific crop (sometimes in a specific region) and prepared a guide to help manage contamination risk factors. While most guidances focus on biological or microbial contamination risks, some also deal with chemical and physical risk factors that might impact the safety of the food.
PMA has been an active participant in a number of food safety guidance development projects (signified by
). We have provided knowledge and expertise to several efforts and financial support, in some cases, to help drive the process and ensure broad distribution of guidance documents to the entire supply chain. A sampling of food safety guidances is included below. If you or your organization are aware of applicable produce safety best practices/guidance documents that are not listed and would like to have it included, please contact Cynthia Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Commodity Specific Guidance
Green Beans and Peas
Lettuce & Leafy Greens
Onions (Dry Bulb)
This and all of our food safety-related material is made possible by the members who support PMA's Gold Circle Campaign for Food Safety. Find out how your company can help improve produce food safety throughout the supply chain.