14 fresh July 2015 Edition
and prepare in the first place. There is certainly renewed interest in the rigour of our food safety systems, in the auditing of those systems and particularly approved supplier arrangements, and in having crisis management arrangements in place. The second aspect is about ensuring that your systems reflect the latest in best practice and research outcomes. We see this daily in areas such as the automotive industry, health care, entertainment, household appliances, energy generation. The list goes on. Just about everything we see and touch daily is constantly improving to the benefit of us as consumers, and so it should be with food safety as well. Not having adopted a new development that has been established through research is no excuse in the eyes of consumers. We consumers make our own long-term food and recreation choices about health and nutrition, but we don’t tolerate a lack of safety for a second. The Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industry came together to form the Fresh Produce Safety Centre in May 2014, to create a focus on research and outreach to inform and educate. Modelled on the Center for Produce Safety, the initiative was guided by Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand and the University of Sydney and supported by those and other organisations along the fresh produce value chain. That support is both financial, with matching funds through Hor-
PHOTOGRAPH: ISTOCKPHOTO / XRENDER
More than 30 cases of the Hepatitis A virus were reportedly caused by frozen berries packaged in China.
ticulture Innovation Australia, and also in terms of the considerable voluntary time and effort contributed by individuals that is so much a part of how this industry makes progress. The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is encouraging best practice in food safety by recently commissioning two projects. These projects reflect industry priorities developed over the last 18 months and are funded entirely by generous industry members. The first project is called Understanding the Gaps (UtG). Industry considered that we didn’t need to undertake new applied research in microbiological contamination until we had a clear picture of the current global literature on the subject. We could then commission specific research if a relevant gap is identified. The UtG literature review will cover organic inputs and compost, water used pre-harvest, other production variables and storage and transport as a source of contamination. Additional work will review the literature relating to the interaction between sanitisers and fungicides. The output of this review will inform the second project of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre, that being to revise the Guidelines for On-Farm Food Safety for Fresh Produce. The guidelines have been used extensively for food safety training and other uses but have not been revised for a number of years. The scope will be deepened to incorporate aspects not covered earlier and extended beyond the farm gate into the value chain. The timing of both projects couldn’t be better. They prove to consumers via the media and to industry itself that the industry is not complacent about food safety, and the recent surge in interest will ensure rapid adoption of relevant findings. This proactive approach is certainly not alarmist or a knee-jerk reaction; the work of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre is there to get industry thinking about and acting on food safety hazards, risk assessments, and how to effectively prevent and prepare so that you don’t have to respond and recover.
The "Issues" issue about facing a global supply chain