T7-06 Introduction: Public health risks associated with pathogenic contaminations from food of non-animal origin (FoNAO) are a concern for the Dutch fruit and vegetable industry. Food Safety Management Systems, such as Good Agricultural Practices, are often recommended; however, such recommendations provide limited practicality for produce growers.
Purpose: The aim was to investigate the status of currently applied measures, like GlobalG.A.P. by Dutch fresh produce growers, and the hygiene status at certain points at the grower. In addition, incentives to stimulate growers to adapt grower management for the microbiological safety of fresh produce were investigated.
Methods: A questionnaire alongside visits to fresh produce growers for microbiological sampling and analyses was used to identify farm management and hygiene status. Questionnaires were also used to investigate which measures could stimulate farmers to adapt certain management practices to reduce potential microbiological contaminations.
Results: Personal interviews (n = 19) and water, swab, and/or product sampling for total psychotropic or aerobic mesophilic bacteria, coliforms, and E. coli indicated that GlobalG.A.P. was recognized and followed by most growers to a certain degree; however, growers had limited familiarity to possible microbiological contaminations from water storage sources with minimal or infrequent use, staff personal hygiene, and harvesting equipment. Hence, each grower was given specific advice on potential practices or locations of microbiological relevance. Farmers were price sensitive towards water testing and water and hygiene management measures. Also, they were willing to adapt management when there was a sense of urgency.
Significance: These results can further assist Dutch national authorities and industries in developing practical sampling guidelines for microbiological hazards at primary production.
Acknowledgements: The Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Dutch Fruit and Vegetable industry are acknowledged for their financial contributions and assistance in this study.