News

Fresh Produce Safety - Building a New Paradigm


8 November 2012

A forum held at the University of Sydney today will bring together local and international participants from across the fresh produce supply chain to discuss food safety and how to protect Australia's reputation for producing affordable, nutritious and safe fresh produce.

"The 2006 spinach crisis in the US and the European sprout problems of 2011 demonstrate the importance of our industry working together from paddock to plate to ensure continued fresh food safety in Australia," said Associate Professor Robyn McConchie, head of the Plant and Food Sciences department of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Sydney.

Food Safety Panel
Food Safety Panel

"Today we are bringing together international experts, representatives of government, industry associations, growers, packers and processers, wholesalers and retailers, food safety trainers and practitioners from Australia and NZ, all with a focus on protecting and enhancing food quality and safety in fresh produce," said Associate Professor McConchie.

Fresh Produce Safety - Building a New Paradigm has expert speakers from the Centre for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis, the US Produce Marketing Association, the Australian + New Zealand Produce Marketing Association, Horticulture Australia Limited and the University of Sydney.

The workshop, jointly funded by the University of Sydney's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Horticulture Australia and the Australian+NZ Produce Marketing Association, brings together over one hundred active participants in the Australian fresh produce supply chain who want to be part of an industry that provides high quality and safe horticultural produce each and every day.

Food Safety audience engagement
Food Safety audience engagement

"We have come to Sydney to share with our Australian industry colleague US knowledge and research that can contribute to that goal," said one of the keynote speakers, Ms Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, CEO of the Centre for Produce Safety (CPS) at the University of California, Davis.

The CPS is a collaborative partnership that leverages the combined expertise of industry, government and the scientific and academic communities to focus on research that preserves and enhances food safety.

Since 2007 the CPS has awarded 69 research projects worth US$10.6 million, across 26 universities. The research is short term, one to two years, and targeted to provide industry with practical data that can be used at all levels of the supply chain.

"One of the CPS priorities is to support industry-wide food safety programs by making scientific research available through reports, webinars and direct access to experts," said Ms Fernandez-Fenaroli.

"Funding for the research comes from industry commodity groups, PMA, government and individual companies," she said

Michael Worthington, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association of Australia and New Zealand, one of the event sponsors and a speaker at the forum said: "It has been very encouraging to see so many participants register for the workshop today to learn from our American colleagues, and to discuss how the Australian industry can collaborate more effectively to ensure that consumers continue to receive fresh and safe produce."

A taskforce initiated by the Australian Produce Marketing Association will work collaboratively with industry, research and regulatory communities, to identify research priorities for Australia and to facilitate communication and outreach.

For further information contact Associate Professor Robyn McConchie 0401718413 robyn.mcconchie@sydney.edu.au or Ms Erika Watson 0450061434 erika.watson@sydney.edu.au.

Presentations from the day can be downloaded under RELATED, on the right. (NEW).