Impact of context on food safety management systems in fresh produce chains

Understanding impact of context characteristics on performance of Food Safety Management Systems in fresh produce chains: climate change and global trade.

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Safety of food emerged to be a global concern and governments all over the world enforced legislation that obligated food businesses to implement Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS). These systems at cultivation are based on good agricultural and good hygiene practice, while further in the chain they follow the HACCP-principles. Different private standards were also introduced, against which food companies can get a certification as a proof that they are working according to certain norms. Consequently, many efforts have been put in the translation of all these requirements and their actual implementation in companies’ FSMS. Still, foodborne outbreaks appear to increase, and following several outbreaks and reports about pesticide residues and mycotoxins, concerns emerged about the safety of fresh produce and derived food products. These reports indicated inadequacies in currently implemented FSMS in fresh produce. Moreover, recent evidences are suggesting that effectiveness of FSMS is influenced by characteristics of the context in which they are operating, such as size, technology, environment and organisation. Additionally, climate change and globalisation of trade are expected to put additional pressures on the effectiveness of the FSMS.


The aim of this study is to get insight in the current set-up and operation of the implemented FSMS in the fresh produce chains in order to reveal their constraints and opportunities for improvement in view of the context in which they operate.


In the first part of this research, a diagnostic instrument was developed that enables assessment and analysis of FSMS in fresh produce, independently from the standards and/or guidelines implemented in the system (1, 2). It allows assessment of companies’ unique FSMS at different chain actors, including cultivation, processing and trade, and considers both microbiological and chemical hazards. The instrument was validated by experts, and by pre-tests and pilot tests in companies.

Future research

Data will be collected with the diagnostic instrument along different produce chains and countries in order to explore the influence of context, including different governance structures and climate conditions. The final results will be used for elaborating adaptation scenarios for FSMS operating in different contexts.


1. Kirezieva, K., Jacxsens, L., Uyttendaele, M., Van Boekel, M.A.J.S., Luning, P.A. (2013). Assessment tool for Food Safety Management Systems in the global fresh produce chain. Food Research International, 52(1), 230-242.

2. Kirezieva, K., Nanyunja, J., Jacxsens, L., van der Vorst, J.G.A.J., Uyttendaele, M., Luning, P.A. (2013). Context factors affecting design and operation of Food Safety Management Systems in the fresh produce chain. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 23, 108-127