Chris Schlect believes the end result of the Food and Drug Administration’s rulemaking on produce safety should be a safer food supply and increased public confidence in fresh produce.

At the same time, Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash., said it is important that the agency concentrate on appropriate food commodities and not overreach to create burdensome regulations for low risk fresh produce.

“How they define low risk and high risk will be of considerable interest,” he said July 24.

Schlect said Congress has required that the FDA prioritize produce commodities based on risk, and he said that tree fruit items like apples, pears, cherries and peaches are in the low risk category.

He said the FDA should not create separate food safety standards for apples, pears, and other tree fruit but rather have an “umbrella” approach for that group of commodities.

Whatever standards are in place, Schlect said he hopes FDA will create reasonable regulations in terms of application and economics.

“It is easy to say make sure your water sources are safe; but what does that mean in practice to a 20-acre grower, or a 2,000 acre grower?”

Schlect said he will be traveling to Washington D.C. in late August to be a part of a committee process with Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association to look more closely at pending food safety regulations.