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Growers' opinions sought at meeting

Georgia vegetable growers can provide feedback on proposed food safety standards March 25 at a special produce safety standard development meeting in Tifton.

The meeting, which includes breakfast and lunch, will be held at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Developing standards

The produce safety project at Georgetown University has set the meeting to collect grower information to submit to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The feedback will be used to develop safety standards for growing, harvesting and packing fresh fruits and vegetables.

At the meeting, fruit and vegetable growers, food retailers, packers, consultants, produce trade association personnel and other interested stakeholders can share their thoughts and provide suggestions to top FDA officials. The FDA needs to determine what is achievable at the farm level.

Experts' opinions

The meeting will include presentations by top scientists from the University of Georgia, University of California-Davis and Cornell University. These food safety experts will discuss compost, wildlife and environmental concerns, water quality and worker health and hygiene.

The meeting is co-sponsored by the National GAPs Program at Cornell, the Food Animal Health Research Program at the Ohio State University, the UGA Center for Food Safety and the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the University of Maryland.

Public opinion wanted, too

Concerned citizens can submit comments online at www.producesafetyproject.org/ or by mail to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

The FDA plans to unveil new rules by October 2010.

For more information, contact Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, at (706) 845-8200 or chall@asginfo.net.

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