Fruit Trade Food Safety has for many years been treated as a secondary issue in the fruits & vegetables trade. Industry and regulators used to work on the presumption that, at worst, consumer could get an upset stomach from eating spoiled produce. Consequently, significant efforts went into improving the quality of the meat supply chain which was considered to be a higher risk to consumer halth than the fresh produce one.
The unfortunate reality is that, under certain conditions, spoiled and /or contaminated fruit and vegetable products can have very serious effects and also lead to fatalities.
Within the last ten years , the fruits & vegetables trade has undergone a paradigm shift and fresh produce Food Safety is now being taken very serious indeed.
This is partially the result of the lessons learned from the tragic incidents that did occur and partially due to a combination of a more robust consumer demand for answers and advances in modern technology which allow industry to more effectively address the risk.
As a consequence, industry has geared up to ensure it delivers - and one of the delivery mechanisms is Traceability. This means on one level nothing else than knowing and being able to provide the relevant information about where the produce has come from. What is, of course, implied is that one is happy to share the information because Food Safety is assured.
And to achieve that state, the state of Food Safety assurance, with perishable, seasonal and weather dependent crops is a massive undertaking that requires a major rethink on the part of every grower, producer, packer and distributor participating in the fresh produce value braid.
Industry organisations like PMA or United Fresh are investing considerable resources at sector level to support their members through an online Food Safety Resource Center (PMA) and a, you guessed it, Food Safety Resource Centre (United Fresh).
On a practical level, Global GAP has become the global food safety standard for fresh fruits & vegetables.
Fruit Trade Food Safety is a critical aspect of any produce business and needs to be treated as an integral part of the business and not as an optional extra!