Q: If the product is dropped while being harvested and it hits dirt do you toss or keep?
A: Dear Kelly,  

Thank you for sending your question! 

The FDA’s Produce Safety Rule prohibits the distribution of produce that drops to the ground before harvest if it is typically consumed raw (dropped cover produce), though there are exceptions.

Exceptions include root crops that grow underground (such as carrots and potatoes), ground crops (such as cantaloupe), and produce that is intentionally dropped as part of the harvesting process (such as walnuts).

However, dropped covered produce does not always get thrown away. Producers can separate dropped covered produce and commercially process it for human consumption. 

Additionally, this produce rule does not apply to produce that is on the rarely consumed raw list, produce for personal consumption, produce for consumption on farm, and produce that is not a Raw Agricultural Commodity (RAC). 

You can read more about the Produce Safety Rule here: https://www.fda.gov/media/129568/download 

Produce: Fresh & Frozen