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Protecting the safety of the U.S. food supply is a shared responsibility. Accomplishing that task requires the efforts of multiple government agencies combined with private sector participation. Despite the best efforts of the public–private partnership, the presence of microbial contamination incidents continues to raise questions regarding the safety of the U.S. food supply. As a result, there have been increased efforts to take measures to enhance food safety by the government and industry groups. The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act establishes an increasing role for government in establishing and enforcing food safety standards. This new initiative is designed to address food from domestic and foreign origins. These U.S. government initiatives combined with the labyrinth of food safety standards promoted by international organizations, foreign governments, private-sector retail food sales, food processors, and producers have a common foundation. All of these standards generally apply to four basic biohazards areas: soil, water, animals, and people. However, they all have an effect on the costs that producers and other members of the industry face as they attempt to implement and/or document the multitude of activities required for compliance. This article provides an overview of the evolution of food safety standards related to the fresh produce industry. An example of their potential consequences on the profitability of southern region vegetable producers is provided and the potential impact on import suppliers is discussed.


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