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Completed project

Food safety, training, extension and capacity for the melon industry (VM17002)

Key research provider: NSW Department of Primary Industries
Publication date: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What was it all about?

This investment, which ran from 2018 to 2019, strengthened food safety in the melon supply chain by encouraging the adoption of best practice. It supported training activities across the country for melon growers, farm managers and key farm staff, and delivered a best practice ‘toolbox’ with essential food safety information and resources.

Key activities undertaken by the project included:

  • Industry practice review. Over 20 rockmelon growers across the country participated in onsite technical visits to review their food safety practices. This identified critical points within the supply chain that needed to be considered from a food safety perspective going forward.

  • A Best Practice Guide was prepared with comprehensive information on rockmelon food safety risks and management strategies leading to practical outcomes. In addition, a Food safety toolbox resource was developed to help stakeholders identify, assess and manage food safety risks. It includes checklists for food safety management, developing standard operating procedures and display posters.

  • Staff training. During one-on-one visits to melon growing businesses accounting for more than 95 per cent of the industry, training was provided to key staff in identification and management of food safety risks. The training also covered measuring sanitiser concentrations, microbiological sampling and packing house hygiene control. All known packhouses were also visited to review their food safety risks. Business-specific recommendations were made and subsequently these businesses made changes to their infrastructure and postharvest operations changes. This transformation of food safety systems enabled the industry to regain domestic and export markets.

  • Food safety helpdesk service. The project has provided technical support to the industry via a helpdesk service which included communication via face to face meetings, emails and phone calls. A variety of stakeholders have used this service.

  • Delivery of regional roadshows, workshops and conference presentations. Through developing a national collaborative network, five melon food safety workshops and regional roadshows were delivered in key growing regions. These were attended by over 95 participants, including growers, packers, regulators, chemical resellers, consultants and researchers.

Investment in this area continues through the Hort Innovation Melon Fund project Food safety training, extension and capacity for the melon industry – phase 2 (VM18003). Information on training opportunities is circulated through the Australian Melon Association.

Related levy funds

This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Melon Fund