Food safety and QA risk management (MU16000)
What’s it all about?
Beginning in early 2017, this project is building on the foundations of the industry’s long-running Food Safety and Quality Assurance Risk Management Service (FSQARMS) program. It provides an effective risk management mechanism at both an individual business and broader industry level, through programmed, proactive and reactive activities.
The project aims to raise awareness across a broad range of risk management areas, and to provide mushroom growers with the knowledge and tools to better manage those risks. Through collaboration and information sharing, the project acts as a conduit to both raise and address issues in the food safety and wider compliance space. The strategic direction for risk management activities is informed through input to and outputs from this initiative.
This investment is closely linked to other Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund projects including Pest and disease management and research services (MU16003).
The project team report considerable progress in assisting the industry transition to HARPS, including providing Freshcare training and implementation support for several growers. Several mushroom businesses have successfully completed Freshcare eLearning and have fully implemented the Freshcare system on farm.
The Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association (AMGA) testing program continues to provide microbial testing for produce and water, and chemical residue testing for growers, using test kits distributed from and returned to the laboratory.
All of the samples tested were found to be within safety parameters. Growers continue to receive advice on how to improve their production practices, based on each test result.
Around one third (35%) of mushroom growers have used the testing service, and the team hopes that more growers will participate in the coming year.
Communication with growers has been a key focus, with regular information on the project appearing in the levy-funded communication channels.
The team has begun developing a reputation risk management framework to ensure growers are aware of all possible risks, as well as appropriate risk management tools and resources.
- Read an article on how to manage food safety risks 'Preplanning your approach' by food safety expert, Clare Hamilton-Bate, from the Australian Mushrooms Journal.
Recent project activities have included…
- With the introduction of the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme (HARPS), a key project activity over the last six months has been assisting growers in transitioning from the AMGA HACCP program to an approved HARPS scheme such as Freshcare. This has included facilitating Freshcare training and implementation support.
- Undertaking a review of the mushroom industry’s testing and verification program, to ensure both the test criteria and products tested align with industry and customer needs. Support is provided in the interpretation of test results and in any necessary follow-up investigations. The de-identified data set collected provides a valuable resource in identifying both extension and potential research needs for industry.
- Continuing to communicate on a range of compliance-related topics through industry channels, including the Australian Mushrooms Journal, e-newsletters and direct correspondence with growers. There are also specific training and awareness initiatives that seek to address specific ‘identified risks’, such as listeria management and the safe and effective use of sanitisers.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund