WASHINGTON -- The federal government could begin defining a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points program for produce by the end of 1996, according to a Food and Drug Administration official.
The official, Ed Scarbrough, director of the Office of Food Labeling for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of FDA, said the agency was likely to expand into produce and other segments of the food industry from a foundation of experience it is gaining with HACCP applied to fresh seafood.
"Our experience with seafood, it will be very interesting to see how it works. We are moving very slowly in other areas," said Scarbrough.
Currently, seafood is the only food segment with a mandatory HACCP program. Final regulations for an HACCP program for seafood are under review and could be finished by the end of the year, Scarbrough said.
"Food safety issues will be a priority in the next several years," he said. Scarbrough spoke at the Washington Public Policy Conference here sponsored by the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Va.
So far, FDA has not imposed any HACCP standards on produce or packaged foods. HACCP programs are a series of stringent preventative controls at various checkpoints where contamination could occur.