The sampling campaign is set to conclude in May 2020, with the agency planning to test 2,000 samples and publish results on line on a quarterly basis.
The FDA has been sampling the berries in retail packaging from processors, distribution centers, warehouses and retailers. The agency is also testing imported berries at port of entry, importer warehouses and other storage facilities.
Berries have been linked to four outbreaks of foodborne illnesses between 1997 and 2016. The freezing process does not usually kill pathogens and the berries are often served raw, contributing to outbreaks of illnesses linked to the products.
The unannounced testing could provide incentives for producers to boost their in-house sampling protocols to avoid reputational harm or regulatory penalties.
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