Freshcare Forum Focuses on Food Safety in the Salad Sector

Published on August 31, 2017

A fertiliser standard based on good science, and industry engagement with all growers…

are the keys to avoiding incidents such as last year’s Victorian salmonella outbreak, Richard Bennett, head of food safety and technology at PMA Australia-New Zealand, told the 2017 Freshcare Forum in Sydney.

Speaking on behalf of the Fresh Salad Producers Group (FSPG), Bennett outlined a series of proactive measures designed to tackle the risks surrounding the use of untreated or inadequately treated manure and green waste in the cultivation of leafy greens.

The FPSG represents the majority of growers and processors and has the appropriate technical support and a real will for continuous improvement. The FPSG members are keen to reinforce consumer trust by addressing what is believed to be a significant contributor to the incident.

In the short term, and in the absence of conclusive science validated under Australian growing conditions, the FSPG been proactive and is developing a fertiliser standard for growers. The standard will prohibit the use of untreated or inadequately treated manures and green waste, and the access of grazing animals on growing sites, for 365 days prior to harvest. This is an arbitrary period adopted by a number of international industry standards. Properly treated manure and green waste is that produced under Australian Standard 4454-2012 or equivalent. The new FSPG standard is due to be available by the end of 2017.

Concurrently, research to will be undertaken to determine a science-based recommendation for this exclusion period, which the FSPG will consider when the work is completed.

Bennett said the real objective is to improve practice and attitude in the industry.

This means helping growers to engage with and understand the reasoning behind the process, and reinforce a food industry rather than primary industry mentality. This is particularly important for ready-to-eat products like salads.

‘We all know there are practices out there that are not good enough and that are destined to cause us grief if not adequately addressed,’ Bennett told the forum. ‘Growers aspire to grow safe food but we need to reinforce that the best practice approach is adopted 24/7 for 365 days a year. We have to work harder to get the message through to all growers – and we will. We’ve got the knowledge. We’ve got the skills. There’s a range of initiatives we will use to get through to those who are not engaged. Not everything happens at the ideal time, but we’re getting there.’

Article written by Tom Gillings

Other Articles from the Freshcare Forum 2017:

  1. Partnering for Global Assurance at the Freshcare Forum 2017
  2. Freshcare Forum – Partnering for Global Assurance in a Global Marketplace
  3. Freshcare Forum Faces up to Environmental Challenges – ‘Single Use Plastics a Bigger Issue than Climate Change’