National

Jun 9, 2010 8:37 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

FDA stepping up oversight of nation's produce

It's the little things that often make food unsafe. And now, the government is looking to tighten the oversight of produce.

Worker hygiene, undetected animal contact and runoff from animal manure are often difficult to identify as the sources of food-borne illness -- something that's frustrated health authorities for years. The FDA now hopes to change that with sweeping new rules designed to track how growers, packers, shippers, distributors and retailers handle the produce Americans eat as it travels from the farm to table.

Most growers and companies strictly abide by voluntary and state guidelines, believing that safe food is good for business. But stricter federal guidelines could help catch less scrupulous growers and give the rest of the industry more consistent regulations to follow.

One expert says: "Any weak link in the chain can cause a problem."

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