Time-temperature Control for Produce Safety: Tension Between Science and Regulations

Jennifer McEntire

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 182-185, Mar 2019

Volume 39, Issue 2: Pages 182–185

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The longstanding controversy within the fresh produce industry regarding which products require time-temperature control for safety has been reignited as the result of several FDA rules and policies. The model Food Code, which applies to retail and foodservice establishments, identifies fresh-cut lettuce, tomatoes, and melons, as well as sprouts, as products that need time-temperature control for safety. Experts on these and other fresh-cut products have long maintained that spoilage organisms in these perishable products will grow more quickly than pathogens. The Preventive Controls rule requires each facility to assess hazards requiring a preventive control and implement the appropriate control; specific times and temperatures are not prescribed. This, as well as references to temperature in the Sanitary Transportation rule and other FDA draft guidance and policies, has pressed the industry and research community to defend decisions regarding appropriate times and temperatures for various products.

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