United Fresh is spearheading a major project, led by New Zealand, reviewing traceability systems in the produce sector following the Australian strawberry tampering scandal. Jerry Prendergast, President of United Fresh, said the New Zealand fresh produce industry has systems in place to assess risks to the food supply and to ensure it is managed.
This includes secure packing and distribution facilities as well as regular assessment of the supply chain processes. “These risk mitigation strategies need to be reviewed regularly and cover all steps in the supply chain,” Prendergast said.
The project started this year and will continue for three years. It is co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund and involves working with the fresh produce industry to ensure effective traceability from paddock to plate.
Prendergast says the United Fresh project reinforces the need to work continuously on defending the integrity of our food supply systems. Fresh produce is being traced from harvest through to retail store with a view to strengthening our industry wide traceability systems.
“The current tampering in Australia, whether copycat or worse, is a major concern and we support the efforts of all of the industry and authorities both here and in Australia in dealing with these issues,” said Mr Prendergast. “We want to re-iterate this is an Australian strawberry issue, there is no connection to New Zealand-grown strawberries.”