Pennsylvania produce growers and food processors will have an opportunity to give their two cents on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) proposed produce handling rule.  This month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will host a listening session in Harrisburg to engage the local community in the process.

“As leaders in producing a variety of agricultural products, Pennsylvania produce growers and food processors are in position to offer valuable insight in national food safety discussions,” said state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding in a statement last week. “It is important that our industry take advantage of the opportunity to help shape federal policy regarding production and processing activities.

“By hosting this listening session, Pennsylvania continues to be a leader in the production of a safe, abundant food supply,” he added.

Redding, State Health Secretary Everette James, and FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor will attend the session, which will also feature presentations by produce industry professionals.

According to the state, the session is intended to ensure Pennsylvania’s agriculture and food production sectors and public health officials “keep pace with changing federal regulations.”

“Locally grown produce is an essential component of a healthy diet, but outbreaks have shown it can also be a source for foodborne illness,” said state Health Secretary James. “It’s important for Pennsylvania farmers to provide the FDA with input to ensure that new food safety regulations protect their businesses and the public health.”

Redding and James co-chair Governor Ed Rendell’s Food Safety Council, which the state’s release describes as “a unique group of agriculture, health, and emergency management professionals.” The council advises the Governor on developing and implementing food safety, defense protocols and best practices in the state.

The listening session will be held May 13 from 9 a.m. – noon at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg.

The event is open to the public and registration is requested. To register, contact Jared Grissinger at 717-705-9513 or