Assuring Produce Safety: CFA publishes microbiological guidance for growers – 2nd edition (Nov 2007)

The new revised second edition of CFA’s successful ‘Microbiological Guidance for Produce Suppliers to Chilled Food Manufacturers’ is now available.

Aimed at suppliers and growers of fresh, frozen and dehydrated produce – both organic and conventional, the primary aim of this Guidance is to help to minimise food safety risks.

The safety of fresh produce is assured primarily by hygienic growing, handling and preparation conditions. By focusing on using risk assessment and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) in the field, this document provides clear guidance to all growers of produce on the main microbial food safety hazards and their controls, particularly in relation to produce that is to be minimally processed and eaten without being cooked.

Good Agricultural Practice and Good Hygienic Practice are recognised internationally as the basis for the safe production of fresh produce and the most efficient way to improve the safety of produce is to rely on a proactive system reducing risk factors during production and handling. The revised Guidance addresses all the key control areas – specifically:

  • Risk Assessment
  • Traceability
  • Hazards and their Control in Growing
  • Harvesting & Handling
  • Packhouses/Post Harvest Handling
  • Sampling, Test Methods, Targets and Tolerances, Interpretation of Results.

A risk assessment approach is taken throughout, with information being provided on relative risks of:

  • Various water sources
  • Irrigation methods
  • Crop types and uses.

Information is also provided on acceptable treatments and intervals in the application of organic materials to land as well as livestock intervals, which has been taken into account in the development of the Food Standards Agency’s ‘Managing Manures for Food Safety’.

New to the second edition are newly defined concepts such as ‘control point’, amended farmyard manure handling requirements including usage intervals, inclusion of requirements for orchards/fruit production, and revision of packhouse and postharvest handling requirements.

In addition the guidance now includes a return to work questionnaire for food handlers and information on the key requirements of the EU Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs (2073/2005) from a fresh produce perspective.

Commenting on the new publication, Kaarin Goodburn, CFA’s Secretary General said, “The first edition of CFA’s microbiological guidance for growers set the gold standard for fresh produce suppliers to the chilled food industry. The new Guidance is based on current best practice taking into account research and experience. Protecting the microbiological quality and safety of raw materials used to make raw ready-to-eat products in particular is vital. We believe that the industry and its suppliers will benefit greatly from this latest CFA publication and we would encourage the wider uptake of the key principles throughout the ready-to-eat fresh produce sector.”

CFA Produce Working Group Chairman, Mr Greg Hunn (Greencore) said: “By bringing together growers and users of produce in an ‘open forum’ and by using a HACCP and risk assessment approach to the management of supply standards, this updated MGG will further strengthen controls in the produce supply base not only to CFA members but also in the broader produce industry.”

To obtain your copy of these Guidelines visit the CFA online shop.