Mississippi’s produce growers can evaluate and comment on the new food safety regulations being proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during three upcoming workshops.

Experts with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will help participants understand the Food Safety Modernization Act. The act aims to improve the safety of the food supply by strengthening rules intended to prevent food contamination.

Workshops will be held from 10 a.m. to noon March 27, April 5 and April 26 at MSU’s Coastal Research and Extension Center, located at 1815 Popps Ferry Road in Biloxi.

Produce growers, produce industry employees, Extension agents and other interested individuals are encouraged to attend and offer feedbackon the proposed regulations.

Of particular interest is the produce rule, a small part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. The produce rule addresses standards for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce intended for human consumption. Congress requires that laws of such complexity and scope go through a process of public input before being fully implemented. The FDA’s comment period will close May 16.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. To register for a workshop or for more information, contact Barakat Mahmoud at bmahmoud@ext.msstate.edu or (228) 762-7783, Ext. 301.

For more information on the Food Safety Modernization Act, go to http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in January 2011 and will be implemented gradually. The act is the first extensive change to FDA food safety laws in more than 70 years.

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