Home' Grower : August 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- August 2012
In this month's issue:
Obsessed with fruit
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Amanda Hill, Food Standards Australia and
New Zealand, says traceability is the single
biggest issue that threatens to delay
Australia's response to any major food
NSW Food Authority food-borne illness
investigation unit manager Craig Shadbolt
says it's time Australian farmers
incorporated elaborate fruit and vegetable
tracking mechanisms on their farms.
Scan food footprint
By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
WITH Australian trade heavily reliant
on its clean health image, the need
for fresh produce traceability mech-
anisms has come under the spotlight.
This was one of the issues that food health
specialists addressed at the Produce
Marketing Association-Australia and New
Zealand Fresh Connections 2012 confer-
ence in Melbourne in June, during a special
'Is Australia and New Zealand prepared for
a major food safety scare?' session.
Talking about global and local experiences
with disease outbreaks in small crops, NSW
Food Authority food-borne illness investi-
gation unit manager Craig Shadbolt
analysed the 2011 listeria outbreak in can-
taloupe (rockmelons) in the United States.
Listeriosis is a disease which poses signifi-
cant risks for those with weak immune sys-
tems and pregnant women.
The outbreak was traced back to Jensen
Farms, Colorado, which had inadequate
sanitation procedures and second-hand
equipment. The incident prompted a
national recall of all rockmelons from
Jensen Farms and the US rockmelon sector
virtually collapsed overnight.
Mr Shadbolt said Australia had a similar
story. Listeria was detected within rockmel-
ons on farms in New South Wales,
Queensland and Victoria over a five-month
period in 2010. Traceback exercises were
inconclusive but showed-up links to a cer-
tain growing region. No further outbreaks
were detected once the har vest from this
region was complete.
He said the incident highlighted the need
for Australian farmers to incorporate fruit
and vegetable tracking mechanisms on their
farms. Food Standards Australia and New
Zealand is now working on a Primary
Production & Processing Standard for
Horticulture (Proposal P1015).
The Australian melon industry is starting
a project to understand the level of food
safety practices on farms and educate grow-
ers about the best ways to ensure produce
which is safe to eat.
Amanda Hill, FSANZ, detailed current
systems in place should a food incident take
place on either side of the Tasman.
Ms Hill used the E.coli outbreak in
Germany in May last year to illustrate how
traceability systems were used to identify
At first, cucumbers from Spain were con-
sidered the culprits but eventually, outbreak
clusters were detected in both France and
Germany. A food traceback exercise in
France and Germany ended with the same
Ms Hill said Australia and New Zealand
were well positioned to tackle any major
food health scare but needed a more collab-
orative approach on a national level to see
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