World Food Safety Day (WFSD) is celebrated on 7 June 2021 to draw attention and inspire action to help ‘prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks’.
The impact of foodborne risks is shown through the effect on overall human health, food security, global fiscal prosperity, the agricultural industry, international tourism and even market access.
Each year WFSD carries a theme, for 2021 the WHO are focussing on ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’. This initiative highlights the fact that production and consumption of safe food has immediate and long-term benefits for people, the economy and also the planet.
To mark World Food Safety Day 2021 we caught up with our Technical Director Cristian to gather his thoughts on a challenging 2020 and what the future looks like for Jupiter moving forward…
What practices do we adhere to on farm to minimize foodborne risks in the fresh fruit that we produce?
Citrus and grapes are inherently low risk fruits, as they grow away from the ground and have no direct contact with irrigation water. Another layer to the process is also added with citrus as they are also washed with chlorine and treated with wax which in turn enhances shelf-life.
We have excellent agricultural practices on our farms and good manufacturing practices in our packhouses. It is worth noting that there are no registered historical cases of food borne fatal incidents involving fresh citrus or grapes.
How has COVID-19 changed the way we think about food safety?
COVID has not had an effect on the safety of the product as the virus does not live long enough to survive the time it takes to go from farm to shelf.
This has been more of a problem in terms of maintaining social distancing and extending handwashing practices beyond packing and harvesting, which has meant more training and awareness of staff regarding the measures that we are all used to now.
We started measures to prevent the issue well before the government started to enforce them in each of the regions in which we are based and we have had no outbreaks in our offices, farms or packhouses.
What role does a digital food system have to play and what are we doing to digitize our supply chain?
Data is extremely important and allows us to make efficient decisions.
For many years now us ‘Technical boffins’ have been collecting data from farming, packing, production and quality process that are very difficult to trend as there are mountains of paper involved.
Keeping data in a digital format and being able to analyse it and trend it in real time (not taking days or weeks to understand it) allows us to focus our efforts in those areas that really need attention. As audits are usually only a sample, they in my opinion struggle to spot the real risks in an operation. I think the use of digital technologies to keep records, coupled with blockchain, business intelligence and AI will make auditors and audits useless in the near future. This is because there will be total visibility of the supply chain and no need for auditing as everything will be available all the time in real time for customers and certification bodies to see.
This will also minimize the number of standards and hopefully consolidate them into only a few as the current number of different GAP, GMP, Social and other standards is overwhelming and largely ineffective.
How have we simplified our food safety standards?
We have developed the Jupiter Standard which has a philosophy of simplification and a bottom up approach where the people working on the processes described on the food safety documentation are key.
From the point of view of our farms we are not operating to someone else’s standard but to our own standard, The Jupiter Standard which is extremely simple. We ensure the messages about food safety are understood by the people growing, harvesting and packing the fruit and not just by the narrow field expert doing the audit.
Our procedures are simple and effective, which means the people doing the job understand them completely and this ensures that food safety is always respected. The Jupiter Standard prepares us to pass any audit at any time.
I believe that there are far too many standards, written in complicated and long winded ways that then never translate into understandable procedures for the people doing the day to day jobs which have in many cases minimal levels of education.
Food safety in fresh produce is a simple and easy concept but multiple standards written with experts in mind seem to have lost sight of the reality of farming and are to me just a tick box exercise that neglects the training of employees in simple and effective procedures that then ensure we improve standards all around.