There are a number of agencies who can help you develop a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) programme.
You can look in the Yellow Pages under “Food Safety Consultants” and for an accredited agency or business that can assist you.
What you can do now:
Staff Training: You’ll need to have a system in place to ensure that you and your staff are adequately trained to carry out their tasks – one aspect of ensuring the safety of your product. You’ll need to keep written records to show they have been trained in the key aspects of their job, including the need for good personal hygiene. Think about what you do now, and how you can show you are doing it
Premises: Look at the potential food safety hazards – in the field, in transport, in the packing shed, and where you send your blueberries once they have left your premises – from a food safety point of view. Think about your pest management programme, your waste management, your equipment management, the suppliers of the products you use, your temperature controls, the cleaning schedules you operate, and how you know they work. If the water you use to clean your equipment or wash your berries (if you do wash them) safe? How do you know? What facilities do you have for all workers for toileting and hand washing. Are they able to complete a good handwash? And do they?
Control of non-conforming products: If your product has to be recalled from the marketplace do you mark your packed products in such a way that smaller batches can be traced or tracked. This is very important if a food recall has to be undertaken, as it is then possible to isolate the recall to a smaller group. How do you think this might best be done, if it isn’t being done already. Some growers use date stamps, others use consecutive numbers – what would work best for you? What do you do with products that are not up to standard? Where do you store them and how do you mark them? How do you dispose of them?
By thinking about these things, you’ll have a good base on which to document your food safety programme.
Food Hygiene/Safety Course
The Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC) runs courses on food hygiene. Other providers are available in various parts of New Zealand. The courses look at issues such as:
Potential causes of contamination of berry crops:
- Contamination irrigation and spray water
- Contaminated soil/compost/manure
- Poor worker hygiene
- Contact with animal wastes
- Improper post harvest handling
Students are issued with a WINTEC attendance certificate.