The first professional development event held by the Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC) in Sydney has passed with flying colours, according to the participants.

The events are designed by FPSC to provide industry with in-depth understanding of specific fresh produce food safety issues.

This first event tackled the complex area of fresh produce chemical and microbial testing, with eight speakers—from grower, wholesale, retail, regulatory and research—identifying the purpose and value of the different types of testing.

The topics covered ranged from big picture: What are we trying to achieve by testing? What are the limits of testing usefulness?; to the very practical: What to test, what to test for, how often to test, how to interpret test results and the potential corrective actions required.

A final panel session of producers, regulators and retailers explored issues around testing and management of testing data and discussed ways in which the fresh produce sector could better work towards safer food and cost-effective strategies to achieve this.

In a survey following the event, all respondents believed attending the event was valuable, with 85% rating it ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. All respondents rated the content as helpful, with 65% saying it was ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ helpful.

All respondents claimed that at least some of the information presented was new to them, with 50% saying at least half or more of the information was new.

Participants valued the networking, discussion and interactivity. The FPSC’s Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety, (80% of survey respondents had referred to it multiple times), was endorsed as a very useful resource.

For more information on the FPSC and future events, go to the website and sign up for the fortnightly e-newsletter.

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre Ltd is an industry-led, industry-supported, not-for-profit company established to enhance fresh produce food safety across Australia and New Zealand through research, outreach and education.