Food Safety & Traceability Update - January 2021

28 January 2021

Food Safety & Traceability Update - January 2021

Welcome to our bi-monthly Food Safety & Traceability Update. We aim to provide you with a snapshot of information on topical and relevant food safety issues and, where applicable, the links to allow you to take your knowledge further.

We welcome your feedback on this update as well as any questions and comments on the topics included.

This edition provides an update on the work conducted towards sustainability of the fresh produce sector, as well as highlighting the importance of food safety, Traceability and how to improve them.


United Fresh Technical Advisory Group Webinar

The webinar took place on the 1st December 2020, with the focus of informing industry participants about Food Safety, Health & Safety, Sustainability and Traceability.

It was hosted by United Fresh President Jerry Prendergast. Presented by Food Safety Representative Anne-Marie Arts, Chair of The Technical Advisory Group Dr Hans Maurer, Senior Project Officer for The AgriChain Centre Jacob Lawes and and Sustainable Packaging Representative for United Fresh Jamie Lunam.

The topics included in the webinar were:

  1. The Sustainable Food and Fibre Future Project
  2. The Food Safety Science & Research Centre Framework Project
  3. The Impact of Standards on the Produce Industry
  4. Updates to Methyl Bromide & Industrial Gases
  5. Sustainability and Reducing the Impact of Plastic in the Environment

United Fresh Members can find recordings of this and previous webinars in the United Fresh website through the resource centre. If you need a log in for this, please email


Sustainable Food and Fibre Future Project - Traceability Programme

The programme focuses on understanding how product Traceability is achieved as produce moves through the supply chain.

Anne-Marie outlined that the domestic produce supply chain systems are not interoperable between the different steps of the supply chain. Meaning that there is limited consistency in the labels used, limited scanning ability and substantial relabelling.

This in turn increases the risk of “information leakage” each time the produce is relabelled to match the system of the industry participant handling the produce.

The project is now heading towards completion, with the release of the “Best Practice Guidelines” to the industry by March/April 2021. The Guidelines document will provide industry stakeholders with an implementation tool for improving Traceability practices and keeping all essential information with the produce as it moves through the supply chain.

The Draft Guidelines document can be found in the United Fresh Website through the following link:

For more information on this topic, you can contact Anne-Marie Arts by phone: 09 414 4536 or by email:


The Food Safety Science & Research Centre Framework Project

Work preceding this framework project began in 2015 as the fresh produce industry began its journey towards understanding what is required in terms of Traceability.

The project is now a collaboration between United Fresh, The Food Safety Science & Research Centre and MPI. There is also a strong connection between this framework project and the Traceability Guidelines in development for the Sustainable Food and Fibre Future Project.

The objective of this project is to “provide the produce industry with a science based New Zealand centric framework that identifies the most significant food safety risks to our industry”.

This is achieved by means of a literature review and workshops throughout the coming year of 2021, whereby the research will be presented, debated and hopefully generate constructive arguments.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Anne-Marie Arts by phone: 09 414 4536 or by email:


The Impact of Standards on the Produce Industry

National and international standards play an ever-increasing role in how we market fruits and vegetables throughout the supply chain.

ISO standards, national standards, Codex Alimentarius and Industry standards are all ways and means to either achieve innovative outputs, be that in quality, Food Safety, Plant Health or data transfer.

New Zealand has Member status with Codex Alimentarius and ISO Technical Committee 34 – Food Products. It also has observer status with ISO Technical Committee 34, Sub Committee 17 – Management systems for food safety.

As an Industry we need to improve our understanding and knowledge on how these standards work.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Dr Hans Maurer by phone: 09 414 4536 or by email:


Updates to Methyl Bromide and Industrial Gases

The presentation given by Jacob Lawes focused on the industrial gases used in the fresh produce industry and it serves as a timely reminder on the government’s requirements around industrial gases and refrigerants.

There were two main areas of activity in 2020, the Methyl Bromide (MB) new recapture requirements and HFC refrigeration gases. Both topics arose due to international obligations and New Zealand legislation surrounding climate change.

Industrial Gases occur in many places throughout the Fresh Produce Industry, from refrigeration and phytosanitary treatments to plant growth regulators and soil sterilisation.

MB is a highly used fumigant due to the requirements imposed by other countries to prevent pest incursion through imports. New regulations regarding handling and recapture of MB have implications to the quality of the product pre and post fumigation.

With new regulatory recapture requirements, the MB fumigated product might need to sit unrefrigerated at the fumigation facility. Waiting for the level of MB in the container air to reach required concentrations for safe handling.

Work towards understanding what other gases can be used to replace MB and their health and safety risks is still ongoing. You can find more information regarding this topic by following this link and this link.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Jacob Lawes by phone: 09 414 4536 or by email:


Sustainability and Reducing the Impact of Plastic in the Environment

Sustainability regarding packaging is not just about converting over into compostable products or plant-based material as there are multiple variables at stake.

The presentation given by the General Manager of Jenkins Freshpac Systems, Jamie Lunam, aims to help us understand the role that packaging plays in creating a sustainable fruit and vegetable industry for New Zealand.

Conversion into more sustainable packing can be very costly, as it may require the conversion of existing infrastructure into those that better accommodate the more sustainable packing materials.

The biggest constraint is that “people are looking for a big change”. This change does not necessarily require a full restructure but can instead be a sensible and sustainable progression where only the material type or input are converted. As expressed by Jamie with the phrase: “take some steps rather than doing nothing”.

At present there are industrially compostable options available to the industry, but they are not a solution to the whole issue, as these options are suitable for use with some produce and not for others.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Jamie Lunam by email: