Even though California’s fresh produce industries have a good record in voluntary compliance, federal regulations for microbial food-safety are still on their way.
Trevor Suslow, a University of California, Davis postharvest specialist, said he is "trying to build awareness of coming mandatory GAPs," or good agricultural practices, for microbial food-safety in fresh-market fruits and vegetables, just like those now required for chemical or physical safety.
Many growers and shippers of fresh-market fruits and vegetables are already using GAPs as means of promoting label reputations and high standards of quality. According to officials of the GAPs Program at Cornell University, one case of E.coli contamination was blamed on improperly handled mesclun lettuce mix that caused illnesses in Illinois and Connecticut. The lettuce was grown near a cattle operation and a free-range chicken farm, a situation in violation of sound practices.
To assist in developing GAP programs in the field and in packinghouses, Suslow and other UC Davis experts, collaborating with counterparts across the nation, have compiled an array of recommendations, guides and other resources, written and on videos, in English and Spanish versions.