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Special Report: Building Blocks of Food Safety

Tuesday, 14 November 2017 | Posted in Food Safety/Traceability by Renee Harrison

Food safety is one of the chief concerns of all who work in the produce industry. When companies build or revise their food safety programs, they often ask, “Where do I start?” “What are the key elements needed for a comprehensive program?” “What food safety risks should I focus on?” To help answer these questions, Produce Marketing Association enlisted the help of noted produce safety expert, Dr. Devon Zagory, to write about the foundational elements of a food safety program. Any successful food safety program has to be built on solid practices in sanitation, training, maintenance, supplier verification, environmental monitoring, and operating procedures. With all of the food safety requirements coming from regulatory bodies, buyers, consumers, advocacy groups and others, it may be appropriate to call a time out to reconsider what the basic building blocks of a robust food safety program should be.

Download Devon Zagory's full report for five basic steps to achieve a food safety program.

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Webinar: Sanitation, your best crisis management tool

Monday, 14 August 2017 | Posted in Food Safety/Traceability by Renee Harrison

We all hear about recalls occurring in the food industry on an almost daily basis. But, how many of these recalls are caused by poor sanitation practices or sanitation practices that are not consistently performed on a daily basis? Are you confident that your sanitation program is working effectively to produce a safe product? Sanitation programs along with Good agricultural practices, Good manufacturing practices and HACCP based food safety principals are all tools in your toolbox in your food safety program and truly one of your best crisis management tools to minimizing food safety risks in your operation.

We know that if conditions are allowed to exist in a facility that promotes growth of bacteria like Salmonella or Listeria, that bacteria will ultimately find a way to migrate into your product or production facility. In order to control these kinds of conditions, a robust and thorough sanitation program along with a solid environmental monitoring program needs to be in place. 

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Access additional resources on Food Safety and Traceability via the PMA A-NZ Information Centre.

Safe washing and crisping of produce, Jim Gorny VP of Food Safety and Technology, PMA

Monday, 14 August 2017 | Posted in Food Safety/Traceability by Renee Harrison

Everyone in the farm to fork supply chain plays an important role in assuring the safety of fresh produce that consumers and their families enjoy. Importantly, this includes retail and food service point of service washing and crisping of fresh produce. Washing fresh produce at point of service is done during preparation, just before consumption and it can enhance the safety of fresh produce.

Crisping is a Safe Washing and Crisping of Produce method used to improve produce visual quality and texture that involves soaking fresh produce in tepid water followed by refrigeration, to restore water lost from produce items during post-harvest handling and distribution through the supply chain. However, if done incorrectly washing and crisping of produce can actually amplify a small microbial contamination problem into a big problem by spreading microbial contamination.

This short presentation by Dr. Jim Gorny PMA VP of Food Safety & Technology discusses how washing and crisping during produce preparation may occur and how to prevent it for occurring. 

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Access additional resources on Food Safety and Traceability via the PMA A-NZ Information Centre.

Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety

Monday, 28 November 2016 | Posted in Food Safety/Traceability by Richard Bennett

The Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety is a new essential resource for growers, packers, wholesalers, retailers, trainers, consultants, auditors, standard owners and regulators, ensuring greater certainty and consistency in the development, implementation and auditing of fresh produce food safety programs.

The Guidelines includes information and tools for use across the fresh produce value chain for Australia and New Zealand. FPSC’s consultation with the fresh produce industry identified this as a high priority investment.

The immediate benefits to the fresh produce industries in Australia and New Zealand is an up-to-date reference resource that supports the harmonisation of food safety practices and programs.

Download Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety 

Other resources available 

The Understanding the Gaps Literature Review Project (UtG) examines five priority areas identified by the FPSC in consultation with industry, government and the research community. It provides fresh produce industries in Australia and New Zealand with an up-to-date exmaination of the scientific literature and highlights priority questions for industry for further research.

Subscribe to the Fresh Produce Saftey Centre newsletter to be kept up to date on resources available to you

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This article is available via freshproducesafetycentre.com

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Centre for Produce Safety: 2016 Research Key Learning

Monday, 5 September 2016 | Posted in Food Safety/Traceability by Richard Bennett

Written by Dr. Bob Whitaker

The seventh annual CPS Research Symposium was held in Seattle, WA on June 28-29, 2016. As in years past, the produce safety research community came together to share the latest results from CPS-funded programs and to discuss how the data can be used to build risk and science-based food safety programs for produce companies all along the supply chain. The interpretation of food safety research results and application to individual companies is most appropriately the undertaking of those that reside within those specific operations. However, we highlight these key learnings from the CPS Symposium to create awareness and stimulate thought.

  1. It is important to learn from illness outbreaks and recalls to prevent repeating the same mistakes.
  2. Generic E. coli has limitations as an indicator for irrigation water quality.
  3. Alternative microbial water quality indicators and indexing organisms are on the horizon.
  4. It is important to sample irrigation water sources correctly.
  5. Irrigation water sources can be treated with disinfectants, but... If a grower finds an irrigation water source that is out of compliance, it would be desirable to be able to treat the water to mitigate the problem.
  6. Validation and verification – know the difference.
  7. The search for surrogates continues.
  8. Bacterial detection is not really the problem, separating the pathogen from the other bacteria is the key.
  9. The challenge of balancing the risk of animal intrusion and conservation is benefiting from emerging data acquisition technologies and understanding of the impact of the environment on pathogen growth and persistence.
  10. Understanding the genetics and gene expression in production environments will drive the next level of understanding in produce food safety. 

This work is meant to inform and provoke thought with an eye towards inspiring readers to examine their own food safety programs and using the research to make improvements. It is not meant as a directive on what must be done to produce safe food. As discussed in several places in this paper, food safety needs to be determined on an operation by operation basis; there are no one size fits all solutions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA Chief Science and Technology Officer (bwhitaker@pma.com) or Dr. Jim Gorny, PMA Vice President of Food Safety and Technology (jgorny@pma.com). 

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