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Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President/CEO Tim Hammonds issued a statement yesterday endorsing the United Fresh Produce Association’s decision to advocate science-based, produce safety standards, along with federal oversight, as the best ways of combating foodborne illness outbreaks.

The statement came after last week’s FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, when Hammonds commented that months after the E. coli outbreaks that were so well publicized, leafy greens were no safer than they were before the outbreaks.

Yesterday, here on MNB, Tom Stenzel, President/CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, took issue with that characterization, saying that that “there is a massive commitment to food safety practices unparalleled in the history of this industry,” but that the industry also is “asking the federal government to step up to the plate and take its own share of responsibility for public confidence. We want mandatory federal oversight of uniform scientific safety standards.” And last week, United proposed a series of standards that it felt would better insure food safety, including government oversight.

Hammonds’ statement read as follows:

"In the aftermath of recent produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks, the entire industry has come together to find ways to improve the safety of fresh produce, to further protect public health and to maintain consumer confidence in produce as the foundation for healthy diets for all Americans.

"FMI applauds the United Fresh Produce Association for taking a leadership role in developing guiding principles that will ultimately lead to federal food safety policies to improve fresh produce safety. This regulatory framework provides the foundation which, when coupled with industry best practices and a rigorous verification program, will strengthen the safety of our food supply."
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