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Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for the Primary Production, Harvesting and Packaging of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (Agenda Item 4)[4]

31. The Delegation of Canada introduced the document CX/FH 00/4 and highlighted the changes made in view of the comments made at the last session of the Committee. The Delegation indicated that a Proposed Draft Annex on Sprout Production was developed to cover hygienic practices specific to the primary production of seeds for sprouting and the production of sprouts for human consumption. The delegation indicated that many links between the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Primary Production and Packing of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for Pre-cut Fruits and Vegetables were highlighted and that common issues were handled similarly where possible. The Committee considered the Proposed Draft Code, section-by-section, and made the following changes.

General comments

32. The Delegation of Italy, supported by Thailand, India and some other delegations, pointed out that the Proposed Draft Code had been developed for large scale industrialized production, while, in reality, in many countries of the world the production of fruits and vegetables was done by small producers with limited resources, and that some provisions of the document, such as requirements for testing, could add additional burdens to them. The Delegation of China supported comments of the Thailand delegation and advised the Committee that in China more than 70% of the population lived in the countryside and that in many areas the production of fruits and vegetables was based on traditional farming practices that did not appear to pose any greater health risk to consumers than industrialized production.

33. In view of those realities the Committee decided to provide more flexibility to accommodate traditional practices and methods of production around the world and inserted relevant wording in the Objectives.

34. The Delegation of France, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the European Union present at the Session, pointed out that there should be an adequate reflection on separation of the provisions relating to fruits and vegetables that had been washed from those that had not been washed, throughout the Code.

Section 2.1 - Objectives and Section 2.2 - Scope

35. To reflect last years discussion the title was changed to the “Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for the Primary Production and Packing of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables”. The second paragraph in Section 2.2 was amended and moved to the Objectives Section in order to take into account the flexibility in the Code and to make this concept more visible.

Section 2.3 - Definitions

36. The definitions of “Agricultural worker,” “Biosolids,” “Hazardous material,” and “ Manure” were amended in order to make them more precise and flexible.

37. The Committee had an extensive debate on the type of definitions to be used for waters and on the content of the definition of “Clean water.” The Delegation of Austria supported by some other delegations indicated that clean water should be free from pathogens, while others argued that it was not always the case and questioned the exact criteria of this provision.

38. The Committee concluded that there was a justified need for two different types of waters (clean water and potable water) and agreed that the wording of the definition of clean water should be outcome-oriented and therefore amended this definition accordingly.

Section 3 Primary Production

39. In Section 3.1, Environmental Hygiene, the second bullet, regarding access of animals to the production site, was reworded in order to make it more practical.

40. The title of Section 3.2 was amended by inserting “primary” between “hygienic” and “production” to clarify the nature of the production.

41. In Section 3.2.1, specific reference to WHO Guidelines on the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Agriculture and Aquaculture was added.

42. The numbering of the sections on the waters, from to, was rearranged to separate the water from the other agricultural inputs, (Section became Consequently, the numbering of remaining sub-sections throughout the Section, Agricultural Input Requirements, was also changed.

43. Bullets in sections and were amended to include the concept of prevention and with the aim of reducing the potential for chemical contamination.

44. In Section, Manure, Biosolids and Other Natural Fertilizers, the wording “where necessary” was inserted at the beginning of the last sentence of the introduction to provide more flexibility and the third bullet was amended as proposed by the Delegations of Canada and Belgium.

45. Section, Soil, was reworded to eliminate inconsistency and make it more general.

46. The Committee extensively debated the first bullet point in Section regarding the use of antibiotics. Some delegations did not support the use of antibiotics in primary production of fruits and vegetables unless it was unavoidable and suggested that the reference to “antibiotics” be deleted while others favoured setting certain specific conditions for their use or had the opinion that antibiotics that were significant for the treatment of human and animal diseases should not be used in any case.

47. Some delegations indicated that antibiotics were used in the treatment of certain plant diseases as pesticides and that is was not possible to avoid completely their use.

48. The Delegation of the United Kingdom indicated that decisions about the uses of antibiotics were not matters for consideration by the Committee.

49. The Committee concluded that the use of antimicrobial agents to control plant diseases raised the need for more information on the degree to which the emergence of antimicrobial resistance was considered during the authorization of antimicrobial agents as “pesticides” and decided to request that the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) provide information on the procedures and criteria that CCPR used when establishing the appropriate uses of this class of pesticides.

50. The Committee agreed to substitute the term “antimicrobial agents” for “antibiotics”, delete the reference to the use of antibiotics in the first bullet point in Section on Agricultural Chemicals, and as a compromise agreed to insert three additional sentences containing provisions on residue levels and the appropriate uses of antimicrobial agents.

51. The fourth and the seventh bullets of this section were amended and a new bullet point, establishing an additional provision on containers used for agricultural chemicals, was inserted at the end of section. The term environment was clarified in the seventh bullet point.

52. In Section the reference to “microorganisms” was deleted and in Section one bullet point on control the quality of the water supply was added.

53. The first sentence in Section 3.2.3, Personnel Health, Hygiene and Sanitary Facilities was amended to recognize their importance at the time of harvesting. In the first bullet point in Section the words “as much as possible” were deleted, and the reference to fingernails in the second paragraph in Section were deleted.

54. At the end of Section 3.2.4 two new bullet points setting provisions on discarding containers and on equipment and tools were inserted. The last bullet point of Section 3.3.1 was deleted.

55. In the fourth bullet of Section 3.3.1 the word “potentially” was added and the wording “agricultural chemicals” were deleted from parenthesis.

56. A new sentence was inserted at the end of the first bullet point in Section 3.3.2 regarding the construction of storage facilities to reduce the opportunity for potential contamination, and the third bullet point was amended. The fourth bullet point of this Section regarding conditions for cleaning materials was deleted and moved to the end of introductory section 3.4 Cleaning, Maintenance and Sanitation.

57. The second bullet point of Section 3.4.1 was amended in order to accommodate more flexibility.

Section 5 - Control of Operation

58. The Committee had an exchange of views regarding the use of disinfectants in post harvest treatment. The Representative of the European Commission proposed new wording, as contained in CRD 8, for the second bullet point in Section to allow the use of disinfectants only where absolutely necessary. Some other delegations supported this view.

59. The Delegation of the United States indicated that disinfectants were useful tools for minimizing cross-contamination of fruits and vegetables and preferred the current wording of the Section.

60. The Delegation of Singapore pointed out that the focus of the second bullet point in the Section 5.2.2. was the use of disinfectants and not the use of water although the section dealt with post harvest water use, and suggested moving this section to Section which dealt with chemical treatments. The Delegation of Nigeria indicated that the residue levels of disinfectants should be those established by the CAC.

61. The Committee, as a compromise, agreed to accept the wording suggested by Canada and to accommodate the wording of the CRD 8 into the current wording of the second bullet to stress that disinfectants should be used only where absolutely necessary.

62. The Delegation of the United States expressed its very serious concern on the decision taken.

63. In Sections 5.7 and 5.8 the wording “where appropriate” was inserted in order to provide more flexibility.

64. The title of Section 5.8 was amended in order to accommodate trace-backs.

Section 10 - Training

65. Section 10.2, Training Programmes, was amended to stress the need for training on techniques for hygienic handling and storage.

Proposed Draft Annex for Sprout Production

Section - Manure and Biosolids

66. The wording in square brackets “used during the growing season” was deleted as proposed by the Delegation of Denmark.

Section 3.5 - Analyses

67. The word “may” was substituted by “should”.

Section - Water Used for Sprout Production

68. Provisions regarding the presence of pathogens in clean water were deleted in the last sentence of the paragraph in this and Sections and

Section - Seed Disinfection

69. In order to clarify provisions regarding the use of disinfection materials, a new bullet point was added at the end of section. Regarding the concern of the Delegation of Denmark of possible health problems associated with the use of chlorine in the water for rinsing, and possible referral of this matter to the CCFAC and JECFA, the Committee recalled the information provided by the Secretariat on Agenda Item 2, that the similar issue was considered by the Fish and Fishery Products Committee (see ALINORM 01/18, paras 146-149 and the document CX/FFP 00/13) and it concluded that there was no adverse scientific evidence associated with the current use of chlorine and therefore no further action was necessary.

Section - Pre-germination soak

70. The word “clean” was inserted to clarify the type of water in the second bullet point.

Section - Germination

71. The second bullet point was amended.

Section - Storage of finished products

72. Section was amended to put more emphasis on minimization of microbial growth.

Section 5.3.1 - Specifications for incoming seeds

73. The second bullet of this Section was amended to put less emphasis on testing of the incoming seeds and make it more outcome oriented.

74. The Committee complimented Canada and its drafting partners for their excellent work.

Status of the Proposed Draft Code of Hygienic Practice for the Primary Production and Packing of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

75. The Committee agreed to advance the Proposed Draft Code with its Annex for Sprouts to the 24th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission for adoption it at Step 5 (see Annex II of this report).

[4] CX/FH 00/4; CX/FH 00/4-Add.1 (comments of Brazil, Denmark, Poland, Mexico and the United States of America); CRD 2 (comments of Peru); CRD 8 (comments of the European Community); CRD 17 (comments of Italy); CRD 20 (comments of Philippines); CRD 22 (comments of Brazil).

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