This research project aims to produce a situation report identifying the microbiological risks that may be associated with the production and distribution of fresh produce.
Background:<BR> Fresh produce can be associated with a wide range of pathogens and there are occasions where fresh produce has been identified as the source of food poisoning outbreaks. Much of the Agency’s work in this area has previously focussed on the transfer of pathogens from organic waste and, more recently, irrigation water to fresh produce. While the microbiological risks from organic wastes are important, there is also a need to consider other aspects of crop management and processing, particularly for crops that may be consumed raw. This research project will include a review of current industry practices at all stages of the food chain from preparation of the land to retail, (for example crop management practices, the supply chain, how the industry is structured, and industry approaches to controlling hazards and risks) and use this information to identify key areas for further work, including possible research and areas where the Agency may work in partnership with the industry to help improve the control of hazards and risks associated with fresh produce.
Research Approach:<BR>A literature review of published and unpublished outbreak data will be used to identify the main zoonoses and produce groups which pose the greatest risk to consumers. Additionally a series of retail and farm visits and interviews will be carried out to review the systems currently in place to manage risks associated with fresh produce production. The review will be structured around the whole supply chain, identifying risks associated with field history, soil preparation, crop inputs, irrigation, harvesting, handling, cooling, dispatch and distribution. The information gathered will be used to review current industry field practices, assess the risks and identify areas of best practice in the UK and also in key countries which supply the UK.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.