Produce Industry Leaders Launch Website for Fresh Produce Safety
17 January 2013
Representatives from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and PMA Australia-New Zealand, the Australasian region's leading fresh produce trade association, today announced the launch of the Fresh Produce Safety - Australia & New Zealand (FPS) website. The FPS website, at www.freshproducesafety-anz.com, has been established as part of a major project to identify a model and priorities for fresh produce safety research and extension, and to raise awareness of the challenges for fresh produce safety and the importance of enhancing current safety practices.
The project, using voluntary funds from both organisations, with matched funding from the Australian Government through Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL), focuses on three critical objectives. First, to plan how the fresh produce industry will handle major food safety outbreaks in the region, particularly in crisis mitigation and management, and consumer communication; second to identify research needs that are specific to the Australian and New Zealand fresh produce industry and to develop local or international collaborative partnerships in research, outreach and education to address these needs; and third, to translate relevant research outcomes from the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California-Davis for application in the Australasian fresh produce industries.
"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 and New Zealand," 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.
"We anticipate developing a research model where we will be utilising existing research and information, as well as bringing together international experts, representatives of government, industry associations, growers, packers and processers, wholesalers and retailers, food safety trainers and practitioners, all with a focus on filling the knowledge gaps on produce food safety in Australia and New Zealand, and protecting and enhancing food quality and safety in fresh produce," said Associate Professor McConchie.
A Food Safety Taskforce initiated by PMA Australia-New Zealand and comprising of representatives from all sectors of the supply chain, has also been appointed to assist in the project and work collaboratively with industry to facilitate communication and outreach.
"An outbreak of food-borne illness can be devastating, not only for those directly affected, but for an entire industry. As an industry, we have a responsibility to live up to the trust placed in us every day by consumers, by ensuring the safety and traceability of our fresh produce" said Fabian Carniel, Chair of the Food Safety Taskforce and Joint CEO of Mulgowie Farms.
"On behalf of its members and the broader industry, PMA Australia-New Zealand is taking an active role in enhancing the safety and security of produce across the Australia-New Zealand region, and the taskforce is confident that this website will prove to be an extremely useful resource for the industry" he added. For further information on the Fresh Produce Safety - Australia & New Zealand website, please visit www.freshproducesafety-anz.com.
About University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture & Environment
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment explores new frontiers in food production, carbon cycling and agricultural sustainability. The critical issues facing the world today shape our research and teaching, towards a focus on the sustainability of the system in the face of environmental challenges and a burgeoning global population. The University of Sydney has a strong background in research and the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is positioned to provide in-house produce safety research and outreach to the Australian fresh produce industry. The University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is launching a new Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness degree, commencing in 2014. For more information, please visit www.sydney.edu.au/agriculture.
About PMA Australia-New Zealand
Founded in 2009, PMA Australia -New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) is the first regional affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, the leading trade association representing companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. Its community includes seed companies, growers, packers, processors, shippers, importers and exporters, wholesalers and retailers, foodservice, government agencies, associated suppliers to the industry, and many more. By working across the whole value chain in Australia and New Zealand, PMA A-NZ strives to assist businesses to increase their sales of fresh and safe produce to regional and global consumers and to develop their internal business capabilities through motivated and skilled employees. For more information, please visit www.pma-anz.com.
Contact: Ms Erika Watson
Phone: 02 8627 1003