Australian vegetable producers are familiar with practices and systems introduced to minimise risk to their business – systems to minimise food safety risk, which also provide assurance to customers, have been widely in use in Australia since the 1990s and all food commodities produced must be safe, suitable to eat, and suitable to market.

Pest and disease infestation biosecurity concerns also pose a risk to vegetable producers in the same way that poor food safety and quality poses a risk; however, pest and disease infestation can be permanent and wide-reaching.

The consequences of not protecting against biosecurity risk are quite clear: otherwise-profitable producers can, and do, lose their businesses after exposure to biosecurity threats, and whole industries can be made less profitable.

Biosecurity risk mitigation is not typically demanded by customers, but a level of assurance is provided through compliance to regulatory requirements placed on at-risk commodities by state, territory and international governments.

A recently completed project funded by Hort Innovation has investigated and reported on options for on-farm Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) based programs for managing plant pests of biosecurity concern to assist in controlling biosecurity risk.

This project’s analysis of existing biosecurity programs and initiatives, and other systems used to mitigate risk, suggests that it is possible to develop a system to address biosecurity risk that achieves these objectives.

This report also contains recommendations about the development of an on-farm biosecurity system for vegetable or other horticultural producers, including the need to consider an overarching quality management type framework that’s consistent with existing food-based risk management systems. Procedures must also be fit for purpose, reasonable and practical.

You can read the full report, including all 36 of its recommendations about potential pest management program development, on the InfoVeg database.

This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 20 November 2018. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!