Hygiene critical in packing sheds

To avoid disease outbreaks and apple recalls, good hygiene and food safety practices are essential in every orchard and packing shed.

Author: Annie Farrow Industry Services Manager, APAL 03 9329 3511 afarrow@apal.org.au

Annie Farrow
Industry Services Manager, APAL
03 9329 3511

It’s important that everyone working in a food production business is aware of and always follows safe, hygienic food handling methods, such as those outlined in all Quality Assurance programs. Otherwise, a disease outbreak could occur, which can cause serious financial and reputational damage to a business that can have a damaging and lasting effect.

This reminder comes after a US apple packing shed was found to be contaminated with the dangerous bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating 43 cases related to the listeriosis outbreak connected to the apples. This includes seven deaths and 32 people falling seriously ill across the US between October and December 2014.

The apples and apple products originating from the packing facility have since been recalled across the US, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines causing major disruptions to supply and reputation.

Listeriosis is very rare and is not detectable by sight or smell, it is a bacteria that can be found in soil, water and faeces.

All orchards and packing sheds should ensure their employees are educated on food safety and hygiene – this includes how to wash hands correctly. Particular attention should be paid to workers from non-English speaking backgrounds to ensure they understand the requirement.

Hygiene is of utmost importance because human hands are a main disease carrier. It is important to wash hands correctly after eating, smoking, touching animals and going to the bathroom.

So, what can a business owner do?

  • Ensure it is easy for employees to wash their hands with soap and running hot water.
  • Monitor that all staff, including family members, are washing their hands regularly.
  • Determine how changes can be made to ensure everyone is following these procedures and adopting good hygiene practices.
  • Refer to a reputable Quality Assurance program.

For more information about how to keep hands clean and food safe visit the Department of Health, Victoria for a step-by-step information guide. To learn more about Quality Assurance contact APAL Industry Services Manager Annie Farrow at afarrow@apal.org.au or 03 9329 3511.

By |January 21st, 2015|Hygiene and food safety|

About the Author:

Industry Services Manager at Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (2009-2016).
For information regarding Industry Services contact APAL at ea@apal.org.au or on 03 9329 3511.