Fresh Produce Safety Centre Warns Growers Regarding Food Safety
Article by: Hari Yellina
Growers have been reminded of the food safety concerns of such weather disasters as numerous horticulture regions on Australia’s east coast are still wiping up after recent flooding. The Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia and New Zealand (FPSC) has urged impacted producers to investigate what steps must be taken to guarantee that their fresh produce and facilities do not pose a risk of contamination. During and after floods and significant storms, the organisation has produced a lot of useful information for managing fresh produce food safety. Dr. Andreas Klieber, chair of the FPSC, said it was critical to maintain a focus on food safety following floods.
“On this topic, we’ve created a list of resources for the industry. It’s critical that everyone in the supply chain, including growers, packers, and processors, understands the dangers of floodwater contamination and what to do about it “Dr. Klieber explained.
- Floodwaters containing sewerage, animal waste, dead animals, and rotting vegetative waste are highly likely to have contaminated flooded growth sites.
- E. coli is frequently tested as a broad indicator of faecal contamination. The presence of more than 10 colony forming units (cfu) E. coli in 1g of produce indicates that there is a problem that requires additional study.
- If recent storms have caused damage and floodwater has come into contact with the edible part of the produce, testing before harvest may reveal whether there has been gross contamination.
- Produce that has been exposed to floodwater should not be harvested unless it fulfils E. coli 10cfu/g and Salmonella Not Detected/25 g criteria, or unless it matches client specifications.
- If it satisfies these criteria, a pathogen reduction treatment (e.g., a sanitizer wash) should be used after harvest.
It’s also critical to monitor all water sources on a regular basis and adhere to microbiological restrictions while using water:
- E. coli 1 cfu/100 ml – Potable water limit for final wash or single-step wash and other applications (e.g. cooling, waxing and icing) if food will (or may) be eaten uncooked. Limit for hand washing water and cleaning of tools and equipment.
- E. coli 100 cfu/100ml – Limit for final wash or single step wash and other post-harvest applications if produce is always eaten cooked.