12 June 1998

Food assurance document could be invaluable

By Andrew Blake

A DOCUMENT which could give growers more help in proving they meet end users demands emerged at last weeks open day at Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association.

The associations 67-page Assured Crop Production guidelines, almost unheard of amid all the publicity surrounding the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, were actually published two years ago, CCFRA head of agriculture Chris Knight says.

Based on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system widely used by food businesses, the document was developed to help farmers and growers control food safety problems and crop quality, he adds.

"The guidelines are all about providing evidence that your controls are effective," Mr Knight explains. They offer a flexible and cost-effective management tool which can be applied across crop production, from choice of land to storage and transport of produce to customers.

So far only about 100 copies have been sold. Developed in partnership with all sections of the industry, the booklet provides step-by-step HACCP analysis of the production system to pinpoint anything which may affect food safety and quality.

It then offers advice on control measures, the limits of those controls, monitoring procedures and corrective actions.

"The key thing is that if you find something is going wrong you have to be able to demonstrate that you are doing something about," says Dr Knight. "The guidelines allow you to show you have been both pro-active and re-active if necessary."

The booklet also outlines why specific actions are necessary. In that respect it goes further than some other publications, he adds.

"We are also trying to show to end-users the practical limits of what is reasonable and usual for growers to do to meet their requirements. It is possible that in some cases demands have been unreasonable."

&#8226 The guidelines cost £50 (£30 for CCFRA members).

A similar publication devoted to pesticides, including off-label approvals, about which the CCFRA has an extensive database updated monthly, is soon to be published.