In an ongoing effort to formulate produce safety policies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are inviting public comment to inform the rulemaking process.

The FDA established a docket yesterday to receive information from growers and other stakeholders on improving food safety in the produce industry. The agency said in its statement yesterday it expects the final rules will “take into account the diverse nature of farming operations.”

“We are committed to leveraging the expertise of our partner agencies and working together to ensure that our current produce safety and quality activities are complementary and consistent,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

The comment period, which will last 90 days beginning Feb. 19, comes as the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) continues to evaluate the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (NLGMA).

If approved, NLGMA would create a national, voluntary agreement similar to the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA), which was implemented after the catastrophic E. coli spinach outbreak in 2006. The plan would allow leafy green handlers to use a USDA-approved food safety seal for following certain growing practices.

“The success of these efforts depends on the feedback and comments we receive from growers and other produce safety stakeholders,” the agency said in its release. “AMS will continue to review the comments that have been submitted to USDA on the proposed marketing agreement.”

For more information, or to submit a comment, see the Federal Register Notice and the FDA Produce Safety Activities page.