The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a new procedure for developing antimicrobial treatments for preharvest agricultural water. The new protocol has been shaped through a collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The purpose is to generate more data that companies can use in their efforts to register new products to treat agricultural water against foodborne bacteria.
“Working together, the FDA and EPA have supported the development of this protocol that may ultimately help farmers address contamination issues in their water sources and protect consumers from foodborne illness,” FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas said in a news release. “We will continue to work with our partners in industry, government and academia on this and other longer-term studies on the ecology of human pathogens in specific growing regions, and new efforts as part of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Initiative.”
The new protocol was announced during a recent webinar on the FDA’s 2020 Leafy Green STEC Action Plan. The purpose of the effort is to help prevent further outbreaks of foodborne illnesses that have been commonly associated with leafy greens products. Companies will be able to use the data that is available to aid in the development of new treatment products, or amendments to the labels of products already on the market.
There are not any antimicrobial treatment products currently registered for use on agricultural fields, nor for the treatment of irrigation systems. The hope is that the new protocol will help aid in the process of developing new treatments that can help provide another layer of food safety. The FDA has also indicated that the agency will release a proposed rule later in the year which will revise some of the specific agricultural water requirements of the Produce Safety Rule.