Some of the biggest food safety problems seem to arise from the fact that people are more nonchalant about fresh produce safety because they believe food poisoning occurs mostly from meat or chicken. This could not be further from the truth.
Australian authorities have set up a new fresh produce safety centre in order to reduce the number of lives claimed by food poisoning spread through fresh produce. The biggest food poisoning incident that has ever occurred was caused by sprouts, which are a fresh produce. The outbreak resulted in 3000 cases of food poisoning and more than 50 people were killed.
One of the most dangerous foods in terms of hygiene and food safety is cut fruit and vegetables, in addition to other fresh produce that have the potential to spread huge poisoning outbreaks.
In order to raise more awareness about fresh produce safety in the industry the new centre has been set up to undertake research on and implement plans that the fresh produce industry will carry out when a food poisoning outbreak occurs. It will also help with other food safety issues and food safety management.
The new centre will be run by the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment from the University of Sydney as well as the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Australia-New Zealand. Funding will be provided by these organisations and the Australian government through Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL)
These are the aims of the new centre according to a post on Foodsafety.edu.au:
It has three objectives;
One – to plan how the fresh produce industry will handle major food safety outbreaks in the region, with a focus on management and communication.
Two – to identify research needs that are specific to the industry in both Australia and New Zealand. It will work to set up collaborations with other bodies around the world to assist in developing best practice and standardisation
Three – it will take research done in other countries, and especially from the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California-Davis, and translate it to the Australian and New Zealand industry.
To find out more about the new Centre – http://freshproducesafety-anz.com/
When buying fresh produce there are certain safety tips to keep in mind:
- Only buy produce that is not bruised or damaged.
- When selecting fresh-cut produce choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
- Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a low enough temperature.
- Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
- When preparing fresh produce for consumption, begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce. In fact this should be done no matter what food you are consuming.
- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be immediately thrown away.
- Wash all produce before consuming.
- Remember that even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first and dry it with a clean, dry paper towel.