Since the potato is rarely consumed raw, it is expected to be excluded from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s forthcoming produce rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act. In the meantime, spud growers, shippers and packers now have a guide to best practices to help keep their commodity in the low-risk food-safety category. The National Potato Council shared the new guide, entitled, “Commody-Specific Safety Guide for the Production, Harvest, Storage and Packing of Potatoes,” during a Nov. 8 webinar. The document can also be accessed on the NPC’s website at nationalpotatocouncil.org. The guide has sections on general practices, production and harvest operations, storage unit operations and packinghouse operations, all emphasizing best practices. It does not include guidance for processing, distribution centers, retail or food-service operations. “We are very excited about producing this document and getting it out to growers,” John Keeling, NPC executive vice president and CEO, was quoted as saying in the webinar. “This is a template for growers to fine-tune what they’re already doing on farms and in packinghouses.” The potato industry group had a microbial and chemical risk assessment done before the new guidelines were written, which found that the human health risk from eating contaminated potatoes was low. The guide was coordinated and facilitated by Susan Leaman of Intertox Decision Sciences, LLC, with technical review by Luke LaBorde, Ph.D., associate professor of food science, Penn State University; Mark Pavek, Ph.D., associate professor and potato specialist, Washington State University, and Michelle Smith, senior policy analyst and member of the produce safety staff at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.