The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a part of United Nations, specialized in aspects related to food quality and safety, along the different stages of production, harvest, post-harvest handling, storage, transport, processing and distribution of food. FAO adheres to the food chain approach in managing food safety and quality as a recognition of the responsibility of all actors in the food chain for the supply of food that is safe, healthy and nutritious.
- In order to maintain the food quality, safety and nutrition, FAO has published a manual on Good Agricultural Practices.
- eFresh reproduced this manual for the benefit of the farmers and other stakeholders and every one can access this section free of cost . No charges are collected from the users for using the information.
- eFresh acknowledges the important role played by FAO/WHO in formulating guidelines in production of safe and quality food worldwide.
In order to maintain the food quality, safety and nutrition, FAO has published a manual on Good Agricultural Practices.
eFresh reproduced this manual for the benefit of the farmers and other stakeholders and every one can access this section free of cost . No charges are collected from the users for using the information.
eFresh acknowledges the important role played by FAO/WHO in formulating guidelines in production of safe and quality food worldwide.
Wherever water comes into contact with fresh produce, its quality may directly determine the potential for persistent pathogen contamination
Become familiar with the routes and handling of surface water sources, seasonal influences on quality, and any microbial monitoring programs of the supplier (for delivered water from public or private irrigation districts).
Identify potential sources of contamination that affect your water, especially those that are within your ability to control in a manner that will protect its quality.
Ensure that wells are designed and maintained in a manner that prevent surface run-off or soil infiltration from contaminating the water supply.
Water used for all foliar applications should be from a pathogen-free source.
Until more research data is available, it is strongly recommended that any foliar applications within two weeks of harvest be from a potable water source
Properly composted manures or municipal bio-solids are not a source of microbial pathogens on fresh produce
Become informed about proper compost management for pathogen reduction and document the method of pathogen elimination of applied manure.
Document or obtain documentation about the specific compost management for each lot.
Maximize the time between application of manure to production areas and harvest.
If the use of multi-season drip irrigation is practiced, spreading of manure without incorporation into the soil requires careful attention to ensure that pathogen reduction practices have been met and documented
It is not possible, or may not be permissible, to eliminate all animal influences from production fields. However, steps to minimize their presence or activities should be determined
Domestic animals should be excluded from fields during the growing and harvesting season.
Evaluate the need for bare soil buffers to adjacent land that may encourage high populations of reptiles, amphibians, rodents, birds or other potential sources of contamination.
Minimize the presence of vector attractants (such as cull piles) within a production field
There is no substitute for awareness, training, and constant reinforcement of the importance of personal hygiene and sanitation as critical to sustainable business and employment.
Follow all OSHA and CAL OSHA requirements for sanitary facilities.
Establish a training program including proper hand washing techniques and the importance of using toilet facilities.
Establish and communicate a clear policy that will allow workers, who report or are observed to have symptoms of illness or diarrhea, to be reassigned to activities that do not involve food or food surface contact. In the absence of such a policy, it is probable that a worker will not report an illness to prevent loss of wages.
Carefully inspect areas frequented by unsupervised workers (such as night irrigators) for signs that additional training is needed.
Provide bandages or other protective coverings to workers with cuts or lesions on parts of the body that may make contact with fresh produce.
If gloves are used, provide instruction on proper use to prevent pathogen transfer to fresh produce.
Use caution when servicing portable toilets to prevent leakage into a field.
Provide physical diversion and containment in the event of waste spillage. Have a plan or product isolation and destruction in the event of a spill
All surfaces and implements that touch fresh produce must be treated as food contact surfaces
Clean all food contact surfaces and harvest containers or bins prior to use.
Ensure that harvest contractors and crews are aware of microbial food safety risk reduction principles and adhere to established safe food practices.
Develop and document a system of cleaning and sanitizing food contact surfaces.
Minimize the opportunity for vectors to contaminate packing surfaces and materials.
Minimize the access or attraction of vectors to harvest equipment kept in the field (such as no damaged fruit left on belts or grading tables).
Well -designed and operated centralized packing facilities and packing systems have the potential to contribute to the reduction of pathogen contamination. Lapses in facility or system management have the potential to amplify localized contamination, broadly re-distribute pathogens, or create opportunities for pathogen contamination within the facility
Design and maintain packing surfaces and equipment to minimize injury to produce and to maximize accessibility by cleaning or sanitizing crews.
Establish routine cleaning and sanitizing programs for all food contact surfaces.
Remove as much dirt as practicable from harvest containers, trailers, or gondolas between
Harvest uses. This should be done outside the packing facility and isolated from any water
Source used for post harvest handling.
Clean pallets, containers, or bins before use.
Establish and maintain a pest control program.
Prevent birds or other vectors from contaminating packing equipment surfaces, packing
Areas, and storage areas.
Store unformed or empty containers off the floor or bare soil surface and in a way that
Protects them from contamination.
The quality of post Harvest water that contacts fresh produce during cleaning, grading, cooling, and application of surface treatments is widely recognized as the essential control point for fresh produce.
Follow programs typical of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure that all water is of adequate quality throughout all packing operations from start-up to the last packed unit.
Antimicrobial chemicals help minimize the potential for microbial contamination to be spread by packing operation water; levels of antimicrobial chemicals must be routinely monitored and recorded to ensure they are maintained at appropriate levels.
Special attention to water quality is required for dump tank systems and re-circulated water.
Keep air-cooling and chilling equipment clean and sanitary.
Transport, store, and use ice under sanitary conditions
Limited control is possible beyond the shipping dock, but the consequences of cross contamination during transportation and distribution will find a direct link back to the handler and grower
Inspect transportation vehicles for cleanliness, odors, obvious dirt and debris before loading. Insist on trailer or container clean-out before loading, if needed.
Ensure that transporters, distributors and retailers maintain the integrity of the positive lot identification and trace back systems that are being used
Well-designed and operated wholesale distribution, load consolidation, and cross-docking facilities have the potential to maintain the integrity of a pathogen-free product. Lapses in facility sanitation or system management have the potential to amplify localized contamination, promote internalization of pathogens into products and broadly re-distribute pathogens.
Mixed storage and mixed load distribution has the potential to transfer contamination from one lot or product to a previously non-contaminated produce item, especially where pallet-stacking, ice injection, or top-icing is involved
Be aware of the potential for cross-contamination.
Separate dry and wet product and place water-repellant shipping barriers between mixed loads
Washing, in combination with a disinfectant treatment, will reduce but not eliminate microbial contamination. Greater microbial reductions are achieved on smooth, waxy produce than on rough textured or porous products
For produce such as cantaloupe, mechanical removal by brush-washing in combination with an approved antimicrobial agent is essential prior to cutting and rind removal
Proper temperature management (cold chain control) is important for quality and safety management but cannot be relied upon, alone, to provide sufficient consumer protection from potential food borne illness
Use only good quality fruit, free from open wounds or defects that may have allowed bacteria to become internalized. Avoid fruit that have visible sunken areas or areas of mold or decay.
Product flow should be linear; incoming product should not cross paths or be stored next to cleaned or processed product. Ideally, packing areas should be physically separated from receiving and processing areas.
Worker traffic flow and activities should not move between packing and receiving.
Develop specific worker training programs for fruit handling and processing to prevent bare-hand or gloved-hand contact of non-cleaned fruit rind and cut fruit flesh, in equence, by the same individual.
Antimicrobial chemicals help minimize the potential for microbial contamination to be spread by process water; levels of antimicrobial chemicals must be routinely monitored and recorded to ensure they are maintained at appropriate levels.
Special attention to water quality is required for common wash tank or flume systems and any re-circulated water