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FOOD SAFETY OF THE SHORT SUPPLY CHAIN - Favv

FOOD SAFETY OF THE SHORT SUPPLY CHAIN - Favv

generally quality, and

generally quality, and thus intrinsically also safe food and food production. A large responsibility is expected from the employees towards their clients due to personal contact and a larger commitment. The adherence on a daily basis to good practices and hygiene is very much influenced by human behavior and commitment. As a consequence, the short food supply chain may be characterized by an good food safety culture, which is intrinsically more prone to adherence to good practices leading to risk reduction and high quality foods without formal procedures (Douglas et al., 2011). WEAKNESSES AND THREATS OF THE SHORT CHAIN IN RELATION TO MICROBIOLOGICAL SAFETY ASPECTS INCREASED POTENTIAL FOR CROSS CONTAMINATION IN CASE OF COMBINED OR NEIGHBORING ACTIVITIES: ANIMAL AND CROP PRODUCTION OR PRIMARY PRODUCTION AND FURTHER PROCESSING In the short chain, the primary production is mostly localized on the same site as the further processing and distribution of the end products or there is a close contact between these activities on neighboring farms. Several reports underline the possibility of end product contamination due to transfer of pathogens from animals and the animal environment to finished food products ready to be set on the market. This contamination can occur as a post contamination after pasteurization as was the case in the Belgian outbreak of verocytoxin producing E. coli O145 and O26 infections associated with the consumption of on farm produced ice cream (De Schrijver et al., 2008). The pathogenic E. coli strains isolated from the contaminated ice cream were also found from the cows and the calves. Direct contamination from infected animals to end product is also possible. This has been shown in a listeriosis outbreak in Sweden due to the consumption of on‐ farm manufactured fresh goat cheese produced from raw milk of goats with subclinical mastitis excreting L. monocytogenes directly in the milk. On this farm, contamination in the environment caused the cross contamination of the cow milk cheeses produced at the same farm as well (Eilertz et al., 2004). Cross contamination can also occur from animals to fresh plant produce through contaminated irrigation water. The importance of the safety of irrigation water in the primary production is illustrated by the large E. coli O157 outbreak in Sweden with locally produced lettuce in 2005 (Söderström et al., 2008). The implicated lettuce was contaminated by irrigation with water from a small stream which became contaminated with the same strain of the pathogen also present in cattle at a farm upstream from the irrigation point. The importance of the quality of irrigation water in primary production was stressed by the Scientific Committee of the FASFC in the advice Sci Com FASFC 28‐2009. The advice identified the risks 36

for food safety and formulated qualitative advices and a proposal for microbiological guidelines. The importance of the safety of the processing water was illustrated by the outbreak of campylobacteriosis by the consumption of locally produced and processed peas (Gardner et al., 2011). The peas became contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni by wild birds grazing at the farm’s pea fields. Shelled peas, obtained after processing, could have become contaminated due to processing water which was inadequately disinfected. Especially in relation to Campylobacter contamination, all broiler producers have to be aware that a more ‘natural’ production, with longer breeding periods for chickens, with free range breeding and wild life grazing at the farm is demanding an appropriate food safety control system, based on proper knowledge of the risks and the contamination sources. Campylobacter jejuni contamination of raw milk is an important safety issue in countries (e.g. UK) where there is still a large local raw milk consumption in rural areas. LACK OF FOOD SAFETY KNOWLEDGE In the short chain, the whole production from primary product till end product and distribution, is managed by the same person or the same team in charge. Due to the broad range of tasks, specialization towards food safety management is mostly not possible. As a consequence, most short chain production units are struggling with the complexity of the food safety management rules. The food safety challenges faced at the farmers’ markets are illustrating the need for adequate food safety knowledge. Farmer’s markets often sell their products outdoors and thus potentially exposed to environmental contaminants such as dirt, insects and pollution. Together with this, farmers’ markets may face challenges in relation to food safety similar to other temporary food service establishments as access to potable water, hand washing facilities, general cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, electricity for refrigeration and sufficient cooling capacity. The problems faced by farmers’ markets are illustrated by the following studies: Behnke et al. (2012) investigated the behavior of employees in relation to hand washing in farmers’ markets and their results revealed that proper hand washing between handling different objects including raw and processed products was infrequently practiced. At food markets, in general, many unpackaged food products are handled, very often the same employees are handling food products and money. In many cases proper hand washing facilities are missing. Worsfold et al. (2004) found that almost 25 % of surveyed farmers’ market vendors were unable to correctly assess the risk associated with their 37

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