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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/

FPSC defers April field day events

The FPSC and the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry are deferring two field days scheduled for April on mitigating the risks from animal agriculture and intrusion. The events were to be held on 23 April in Werribee and 27 April in Gatton. These events have been postponed until the current public health crisis has eased.  We sincerely thank the industry supporters and speakers, who committed their time for these events. We will seek to reschedule this important topic for later in 2020.

FSANZ: Primary Production and Processing Requirements for High-Risk Horticulture

FSANZ extends submission deadline to 25 March

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has extended the deadline for the call for submissions on primary production and processing (PPP) requirements to address food safety for high-risk horticultural products to 25 March 2020

More information is here. To make a submission to FSANZ, visit here.

PPP standards are incorporated into Chapter 4 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and apply to Australia only. Chapter 4 Primary Production and Processing Standards do not apply in New Zealand. 

FPSC is asking the wider fresh produce industry to feed-back information and suggestions on this proposal to FPSC. 

If you would like to discuss your submission or issues raised, please contact the FPSC Chairman Michael Worthington on +61 409 181 034 or FPSC Executive Officer Emma Walters on +61 419 204 454.


AU-NZ: Primary Production and Processing Requirements for High-Risk Horticulture

A reminder to the fresh produce industry that the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) call for submissions on primary production and processing requirements to address food safety for high-risk horticultural products closes on 18 March 2020

More information is here. To make a submission to FSANZ, visit here.

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre is on the Standards Development Advisory Group convened by FSANZ for information and advice on this issue.  FSANZ is seeking submissions, particularly around the questions in the call for submission document. FSANZ is also seeking advice if there are any relevant area(s) that should be addressed which may be missing from the information provided in the call for submissions.

FPSC is asking the wider fresh produce industry to feed-back information and suggestions on this proposal to FPSC. Please do so by COB 16 March 2020. 

If you would like to discuss your submission or issues raised, please contact the FPSC Chairman Michael Worthington on +61 409 181 034 or FPSC Executive Officer Emma Walters on +61 419 204 454.

FPSC A&NZ monthly newsletter out now!

The March 2020 edition of the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia & New Zealand newsletter has just been released!

Click here to view the latest newsletter.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in the Fresh Produce Safety community by signing up for the monthly newsletter.

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.

Webinar – Innovation Agenda: Opportunities to Improve the Audit Process

Date and Time: 10-11am (AEDT), Tuesday 10 March 2020

Webinar – Innovation Agenda: Opportunities to Improve the Audit Process – a view from Lucy MacLennan from Red Tractor

Presented by the FPSC A&NZ and Freshcare.

Register here.

This webinar will be in two parts: the first part will be an overview of the UK’s Red Tractor and its assurance scheme for fresh produce. The second part will be Lucy’s personal views about the opportunities to improve the audit process, as part of a project she is undertaking for a Nuffield Scholarship.

About the Speaker: Lucy MacLennan is a specialist consultant to the food industry having worked as a food technologist for more than 20 years. Her work has taken her around the world improving the quality and safety of fresh produce as well as ambient grocery products and high care chilled prepared foods.

She is currently a 2020 Nuffield Scholar, having previously obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Agrifood from the University of Nottingham, an MBA from Cranfield University and her undergraduate degree BSc (Hons) in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Surrey.

Lucy’s career has seen her work for leading UK retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets, as well as working extensively throughout their supply bases. Her consultancy work has led to the development of the Marks & Spencer Select Grower standard which has step changed food safety standards within the fresh produce industry.

As well as her consultancy work, Lucy is Chief Executive of The Organic Research Centre, an organisation which seeks to redesign and deliver better farming practices based on organic and agroecological principles. She is also Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Fresh Produce Board Committee at Red Tractor Assurance.

This webinar will be in two parts:

Part A – Red Tractor Assurance is the leading farm assurance scheme in the UK.  It is one of the biggest brands in the UK, with its logo appearing on almost £15bn food sold.  The scheme covers 6 industry sectors: beef and lamb, poultry, dairy, crops, pigs and fresh produce.  Lucy is Chairman of the Fresh Produce Sector Board and Non Executive Director for Red Tractor and will provide an overview of the state of the fresh produce sector in the UK and how Red Tractor has responded and shaped its strategy accordingly.  In addition she will provide an overview of how the fresh produce standard is managed and implemented.

Part B – Lucy has built a wealth of experience developing GAP standards for UK retailers and has seen first hand where they work well but also the issues associated with audit and assurance schemes.  Her perception is that food safety audits are currently viewed as something of a necessary evil within supply chains – certification is a market entry requirement so the process is tolerated rather than really used by anyone to improve standards on farm.  But auditing on one day of the year can provide a false sense of year round compliance particularly regarding food safety.  She believes that there is an opportunity farm businesses to take more responsibility for their own continuous improvement of agricultural practices and that with improved attitudes, ownership of the challenge and building knowledge, ultimately the need for external audit could be reduced – or even eliminated and instead more emphasis should be placed on internal audit and leadership culture.  It is this opportunity that Lucy is exploring as part of her studies for her Nuffield Farming Scholarship.  In the course of her studies she will explore different fresh produce food safety standards around the world but in addition she will explore how audit has developed in other industries such as medicine, finance and the military in order to see whether there are opportunities to learn from their experience.

Register here.

AU-NZ: Primary Production and Processing Requirements for High-Risk Horticulture

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has called for submissions to consider primary production and processing requirements to address food safety for high-risk horticultural products. Submissions are now open and close on 18 March 2020

More information is here.

FSANZ: “FSANZ has raised a proposal, Primary Production and Processing Requirements for High-risk Horticulture (P1052) to consider the development of a primary production and processing (PPP) standard for high-risk horticulture as part of a broader review of chapter 3 and 4 of the Food Standards Code.

We are currently seeking comment from the community, growers, industry and other interested parties on a first call for submissions. The period for comment closes at 6pm (Canberra time) Wednesday 18 March 2020.

This call for submissions will seek information on the current environment and potential options for regulatory and non-regulatory measures to manage high risk horticulture.”

FPSC encourages industry to review the documentation provided by FSANZ, and to make submissions as appropriate, by the deadline of 18 March. To make a submission, visit here.

FPSC will provide updates on this issue over the coming weeks.