With many the hype of healthy eating on the rise, produce has never been more important. The fresh food market has increased in US$15 billion in worth since 2001 and will only continue to increase. But as the demand for produce grows, many have come to realise that fresh produce can cause foodborne illnesses – despite being the healthy option!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America have set some voluntary guidelines in 1998 called Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. There has been little enforcement on these rules but it is clear that the industry has adopted it for basic practice.
Flaws in Voluntary Model For Produce
With the introduction of third-party auditors in the production process of some produce, companies have caused some high-profile outbreaks in recent years. Why? One of the main problems is that these third-party auditors may lack scientific understanding in their purchases. For example, they do not have the farmer’s wisdom in the application of manure; safety standards for irrigation water, well construction and land use; and setbacks to sources of pollution in growing areas.
The distribution of produce is also complex. In some grocers, they freshly cut the produce for you. That in itself can cause some problems in the food safety sense but the main problem with the voluntary model lies somewhere else.
The main thing to consider changing is the methods used in sanitation. What type of water one uses on their farm, the method one uses to grow the produce, how farmers tackle infectious pathogens and how the supply chain deal with produce can affect the sanitation of the final product. It is of utmost importance that all stages of the production process that the produce are kept in a safe environment, free from pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.
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