CORVALLIS - A public meeting Dec. 12 in Clackamas is intended to give Northwest farmers, harvesters, packing house workers, consumers and others a chance to offer suggestions for a federal guide that will address the safety of imported and domestic fresh fruits and vegetables.

The session runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Monarch Hotel, 12566 S.E. 93rd Ave. It is one of six "grassroots meetings" the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are sponsoring in cooperation with state extension services. The Oregon State University Extension Service is organizing the Clackamas meeting.

Recent public health problems have raised concerns about the safety of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables not processed to eliminate disease organisms. The guidance document is part of an initiative President Clinton announced on Oct. 2 intended to ensure the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Topics covered at the Clackamas public meeting will include handling of water and manure, worker sanitation and health, field and facility sanitation and fruit and vegetable transportation and handling.

The guide will not create new requirements or regulations, a federal announcement noted, but "provide guidance on sound practices that will help minimize microbial contamination of produce." The guide should be useful to U.S. farmers and to foreign farmers who export produce to the United States.

Draft copies of the guidance document will be available at the Dec. 12 meeting. The draft document is posted on the FDA's World Wide Web page: Note to Editors: This story originally contained a World Wide Web address. The characters used in Web addresses will not telecommunicate in our system. Please call us at 541-737-0801 for the address.

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Ron Mobley, 503-678-1264