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Posts from the ‘Research News’ Category

Fresh produce safety and COVID-19

Fresh produce safety and COVID-19 positive workers in processing facilities: key points for industry

The ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry has released information on fresh produce safety and COVID-19 positive workers in processing facilities. Key points are:

  • COVID-19 is unlikely to be passed on through fresh produce
  • There is a low risk of contracting COVID-19 from fresh produce if handled by a worker who is confirmed positive for COVID-19
  • Immediately notify the health department if a worker in the facility tests positive for COVID-19
  • Increase contact time and/or concentration of disinfectants on surfaces in the processing environment

For further information, visit the ARC Training Centre’s website here

Additional resources:
For additional information, visit these following sites: 

Australian Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-resources

Freshcare: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources: https://www.freshcare.com.au/resources/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University: The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Food Industry Resources and FAQs: https://instituteforfoodsafety.cornell.edu/coronavirus-covid-19/frequently-asked-questions/

New Zealand Food Safety Science Research Centre: https://www.nzfssrc.org.nz/node/154

NZ MPI: Coronavirus and Food Safety on COVID-19: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-food-safety/

Coronavirus unlikely to be passed on through fresh produce

The ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry and FSANZ have released information on the coronavirus and food safety. Key points are that coronavirus is unlikely to be passed on through fresh produce. The virus may survive up to three hours on dry inanimate surfaces, and several hours on hands, tissues, and other surfaces, although this depends on the nature of the surface, environmental conditions etc. The produce industry should reduce the risk of transmission through surface contamination by strictly following all good personal hygiene practices along with good agricultural practices. More (ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry) and more (FSANZ)

Outbreaks, occurrence and control of norovirus and Hep A in berries

The team from the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry has published a review paper in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition on norovirus and Hep A in berries. Dr Hayriye Bozkurt, Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien, Dr Floris van Ogtrop, A/Prof Tina Bell and Prof Robyn McConchie co-authored “Outbreaks, occurrence, and control of norovirus and hepatitis a virus contamination in berries: A review”. The review found that inadequate handler hygiene was the predominant source of pre- and post-harvest contamination, but that the current industrial processing methods (freezing, storage and washing) provided limited efficacy in reducing viral load.  They recommended key interventions in personal and environmental hygiene and the development of alternative processing technologies to induce sufficient viral inactivation in berries while maintaining sensory and quality attributes.

Read the review paper here.

Fact Sheet: Animal Impact on Produce Safety

FPSC A&NZ has launched a fact sheet on the impact of animals on the risk of foodborne illness in the fresh produce sector. The fact sheet covers the food safety risks associated with both wildlife and intensive animal production. The fact sheet also outlines recommended practices for managing the co-existence of animal and crop production.

The fact sheet was written by researchers from the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry, FPSC Board Member Professor Robyn McConchie from the University of Sydney and Dr Michele Jay-Russell from UC Davis’ Western Center for Food Safety.

The fact sheet can be accessed here.

USA: Researchers confirm flies can transfer E. coli from feedlots to produce fields

 

Along with feedlot dust blowing in the wind and surface irrigation water flowing adjacent to feedlots, flies captured in leafy greens plots near feedlots are capable of transferring E. coli from animal operations to produce fields.

Set for publication in August in the “Journal of Food Protection,” new research from a team of experts links contamination of leafy greens with E. coli from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also referred to as feedlots, via “pest flies.”  

“Most fly isolates were the same predominant pulsed-field gel electrophoresis types found in feedlot surface manure and leafy greens, suggesting a possible role for flies in transmitting E. coli O157:H7 to the leafy greens,” according to the research abstract.

Read more

Reducing listeria contamination from salad vegetables

Research conducted in 2010 found that Listeria monocytogenes was not predominantly spread by water and chicken manure, two common farm inputs in Australian vegetable farming. It is however more prevalent in summer and in particular in Victoria.

Silage and baled hay produced high numbers of L. monocytogenes which are fed to and ingested by ruminants (cows, sheep, goats). This issue with this feed is that it passes through the animals usually without causing infection to them and becomes trapped within dust when the faeces become dry in hot weather.

The dust carrying the L. monocytogenes can then settle on and contaminate vegetables after being blown large distances by strong winds. Leafy vegetables (eg. curly parsley) can trap dust more effectively and show higher levels of detection than smooth leaf vegetables, such as cos lettuce.

A project recommendation is that intensive livestock operations (feedlots) and grazing cattle, sheep and goats should be kept as far from vegetable production as possible and particularly in the direction of prevailing summer winds.

Read more

Food safety conference delivers key learnings to the fresh produce industry

The theme of this year’s Fresh Produce Safety Conference, hosted by the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia & New Zealand in Sydney last week was ‘Food Safety: It’s Your Responsibility’.

Bringing together over 150 leading food producers and manufacturers, packers, distributors and retailers, students and researchers, the event confirmed food safety and compliance as top priorities for the industry. Read more

Listeria in fresh produce. Are we any the wiser?

‘The role of food safety staff must go beyond compliance and keeping the regulatory guys happy,’ said Suresh DeCosta, Director of Food Safety, Lipman Family Farms (USA) and Technical Committee, Center for Produce Safety (USA), at the 5th Annual Fresh Produce Safety Conference in Sydney last week.

The number of deaths from the 2017 listeriosis outbreak in South Africa reached 216, making it the most lethal outbreak in history. The source was cured meats.

On a much smaller scale, Australia recently experienced lethal outbreaks traced to cheese and rockmelons. While the number of recorded hospitalised cases in Australia is low – around 70 a year – Listeria continues to be a major problem for the food industry, and a priority theme for the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia & New Zealand.

Microbiologist Dr Robert Premier explained there are 17 species of Listeria but most are harmless and only two are implicated in human infections. Read more

AU: Foodporn helps researcher hungry for data to curb gastro disease Campylobacter

ABC News: A Darwin-based researcher with the University of Queensland is hoping that our culture of obsessive food documentation — foodporn — will eventually improve prevention of a widespread gastrointestinal disease.

Read more

US: New DNA technique suggests Salmonella took out the Aztecs

Food Safety News: Research, published Monday in the journal Nature, reports DNA analysis has unmasked Salmonella enterica bacteria as the cause of a 16th century epidemic that affected large parts of Mexico and wiped out an estimated 800,000 people in the Aztec Empire.

Read the full article at the Food Safety News website