(March 13) For the regulated and the regulators, the interaction of the fresh produce industry with the Food and Drug Administration is maximized by clear communication.

To that end, the FDA’s March 1 release of its draft guidance document for fresh-cut produce is a positive step.

Five years under development, the draft guidance was sidetracked by other priorities at FDA until recently.

The industry already has provided input on the document, and the 90-day comment period will allow the opportunity for more detailed comments about the plan.

The goal for both government and industry should be a practical and useful document.

The FDA said the draft guidance examines production and harvesting of fresh produce and provides recommendations for fresh-cut processing relating to personnel health and hygiene, training, and sanitation operations for buildings and equipment. The last part of the document addresses record-keeping and traceback procedures.

Industry observers said there will be areas of disagreement. The FDA’s parameters for testing wash water, for example, may need to be revisited.

There are also concerns about the intervals between recommended cleanings.

Overall, however, the FDA’s effort shows the agency is doing its part in what is always a two-way street of communication.