Volume 17 Part 1 Article 3: Food Safety Assurance in the Mushroom Industry

Volume 17 Part 1 Article 3
Year 2008
Title: Food Safety Assurance in the Mushroom Industry
Author: L. Korsten


Implementing basic food-safety systems in the mushroom industry is a prerequisite for continued industry growth, maintaining market access, compliance to minimum standards and ensuring basic product safety. The South African Government has adopted the international code of food hygiene based on the Codex Alimentarius and Good Agricultural Practices (SAGap). Similarly, retailers require certification to voluntary standards such as Eurepgap, BRC (British Retail Consortium) and HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point). Although all of these standards and requirements have food safety as their main objective, none addresses the specific needs of the mushroom industry. Multiplication of required standards is a further characteristic of the modern food landscape, and industry is financially obliged to carry the cost of implementation and certification. The costs and benefits of these multiple standards have not been considered in the zest for safe and wholesome food assurance. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) requirements specify that a sciencebased approach should be followed. Similarly, HACCP requires a science-based approach in order to identify critical control points (CCPs), yet very few science-based studies have emerged to meet the specific needs of the mushroom industry. This presentation provides a critical overview of multiple food safety assurance standards and requirements, and asks if they are truly meeting their objective of ensuring a safer product. It also provides a cost–benefit approach to food safety assurance and proposes a MushroomGap for the industry that contains all the elements of Eurepgap, HACCP and ISO 22000.

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