1.1 Identify the essential hygienic principles for fresh fruit products in primary production (open field and greenhouses), packing, storage, and transportation, to achieve safe food, fit for human consumption.
1.2 Give specific recommendations for general hygienic practices in the primary production (cultivation-harvest), conditioning, packing, storage, and transportation of fruits.
1.3 Offer recommendations about good agricultural and manufacturing practices, necessary to maintain the characteristics and quality of the product.
1.4 Establish work rules to preserve the safety and health of the people involved in the production chain.
1.5 Preserve the natural resources of productive areas and human health by means of the implementation of a sustainable production system.
1.6 Offer orientation for specific guides.
This guide of manufacturing, agricultural, and hygienic practices will be applied to the production of fresh fruits, from orchard planting to the delivery of fruit to the market.
Agricultural water: refers to the water used in the cultivation (field, orchard, etc.) for irrigation, frost control, for the application of phytotherapeutic agents, etc.
Drinking water: The water that complies with that specified in the legislation in force: Argentinean Alimentary Code, Chapter XII, Article 982.
Food: All substances or mixtures of natural or processed substances, ingested by man and that supplies the organism with the materials and energy necessary for the development of the biological processes. The term food also includes the substances or mixtures of substances that are used in the preparation or treatment of foods, having or not nutritious value.
Quality: Group of aspects and characteristics of goods or services, related to their capacity to satisfy the consumer's needs, explicit or implicit, with the observance of legal, technical, and commercial requirements.
Composting: Process that undergo organic substrata through controlled bioxidative processes, including a thermophilic initial stage, stabilize the organic matter, eliminating odor, and reducing the pathogenic level.
Consumers: People that buy or receive foods with the purpose of satisfying their needs. Contamination: The introduction or presence of ONE (1) contaminant in the food or in the food environment.
Cross-contamination: Food contamination by direct or indirect contact with the sources or vectors of possible contamination within the production process.
Contaminant: Any biological or chemical agent, foreign matter or other substances not added intentionally to foods and that can compromise their safety.
Disinfection: The reduction, by means of chemical agents or appropriate physical methods, of the number of microorganisms in the building, facilities, machinery, and utensils, at a level that does not allow the contamination of the food that is elaborated. Effluent: All liquid that is discarded after having been used in any of the operations performed.
Package: The container, wrapping or the packing material destined to ensure conservation and to facilitate transportation and handling of the product.
Establishment: The environment that comprises the area and/or the building, where operations and processes are performed to condition raw materials and/or ONE (1) processed food, as well as their storage.
Fresh fruits: Those that are usually sold to the consumer in their natural state or with minimum processing (natural).
Food innocuousness: The guarantee that food will not cause damage to the co sumer when prepared and/or consumed according to the use they are destined.
Appropriate maturation: State of development of a product at which it can be picked. Fruit handling: All the operations made to the fruit product to obtain a finished food, at any stage of its processing, storage, and transport.
Competent organism: The official or officially acknowledged organism to which the National State grants legal faculties to exercise certain functions.
Pathogen: Microorganism able to cause damage or disease.
Danger: Aqualitative expression of potential damage.
Plague: Any species, race or biotype of plants, animals or pathogenic agents harmful to plants or plant products.
Phytosanitary product: Any substance, biological agent, mixture of substances or of biological agents, destined to prevent, control or destroy any harmful organism, including unwanted species of plants, animals or microorganisms that cause damage or negative interference in the production, elaboration or storage of plants and their products.
Traceability: The group of procedures that allows having a complete surveillance of the merchandise from the production place, lot, establishment, etc., until the destination point.
Agrochemical residue: Any substance or specified biological agent present in, or on ONE (1) agricultural product or food for human or animal consumption as a consequence of the exposure to a phytosanitary product. The term includes metabolites and impurities considered of toxicological importance.
Risk: Quantitative expression of the probability of occurrence of damage.
Sanity: Quality of raw materials, food products and/or propagation materials, being free of elements harmful to them, at the highest possible level.
Supervisor: Person that performs a sequence of observations to evaluate if the procedures conform to those established.
4 Primary production
To reduce the probability of contamination of the crop that can endanger fruit safety or their fitness for consumption at later stages of the food chain.
Environmental factors and management practices can produce contamination of different kinds during the cultivation of fresh fruit products.
4.3 Hygiene of the environment where the raw material is produced
4.3.1 Choice of the production place:
- Evaluate previous history of the cultivation place and previous and current use of adjacent lots to identify possible contamination dangers.
- Do not cultivate fruit trees for fruits to be consumed fresh in areas near to places with a presence of potentially harmful substances, for example:
- These can cause the contamination of those foods or their derivatives at levels constituting a health risk.
- If the causes of contamination can be eliminated, apply a corrective plan or plans of action before proceeding cultivation.
- Keep records of the activities made on the soil and in the event of using it again, record its productive history.
4.3.2 Soil or substrate:
It is advisable that the soil or substrate have good physical, chemical, and biological conditions. Drainage should be adequate to avoid the establishment of high humidity microclimates, which promote the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms.
4.3.3 Water for human consumption:
It should be kept in mind:
- Use only drinking water.
- Evaluate the quality of the water source used by means of periodic analysis.
- In the need of storing water, design, build, and maintain the reservoirs to prevent contamination.
4.3.4 Agricultural water (irrigation, washing of equipment and instruments, for the solutions of fertilizers and phytosanitary products, etc.):
- It should be free of human and/or animal fecal contaminations, of dangerous microor- ganisms or substances (example: Escherichia coli, coliforms, parasites, Shigella sp., Listeria monocitogenes, heavy metals, arsenic, cyanide, etc.), and agrochemical residues.
- Evaluate the quality of the source of agricultural water by means of periodic analysis to determine microbial contamination, as well as agrochemical residues or other harmful substances.
- Cultivation should be done in areas where the water used in the different productive processes does not represent, through food, a risk to the consumer's health.
4.3.5 Supply of agricultural water:
Agricultural water is a resource frequently shared, for that reason it is important to keep in mind the factors that affect the common hydrographic basin. Land topography, as well as the past and present use of the adjacent fields are factors that facilitate contamination. The presence of urban areas, industrial plants, treatment plants for waste waters, dunghills of domestic animals, landfills or high concentrations of wild fauna upstream, are possible sources of contamination downstream.
Irrigation water can be an important factor of product contamination, this characteristic requires special care in the quality of the water and in the irrigation method used, mainly close to harvest. Although the irrigation method is chosen as a function of several factors, the contact of water with the edible part of the plant must be avoided. Thus, drip irrigation has less contact with the product than furrow or sprinkler irrigation. The irrigation system adopted must allow a uniform and effective distribution of the water to assure the best use of the resource and to minimize negative effects on the environment.
4.3.7 Animals in the orchard:
Producers should consider that:
- Livestock and other domestic animals should stay far from the orchard during the cultivation season. To that end, the planted sectors should be wired or fenced or animals should be confined conveniently.
- Ditches, embankments, live plant fences, etc. should be constructed to separate neighboring fields where animals are raised and to prevent runoff or drip of animal feces due to rains, irrigation ditches or simply by superficial runoff.
- The concentration of big quantities of wild fauna should be avoided, through the use of good agricultural practices to drive away or to redirect this fauna towards other areas. Visual, auditory, or physical dissuasive means can be used, all in agreement with the legislation that regulates the management and protection of wild fauna.
- If working animals are used it is beetter not to use them during harvest.
- Those working animals should be in good health, vaccinated, and free from parasites and diseases.
4.3.8 Organic fertilizers:
- Organic fertilizers, including those originated from organic sludge and urban organic residues, should undergo treatment (composting or other) to eliminate pathogenic agents before being incorporated to the soil. Otherwise, they could contaminate the product or the environment that surrounds it.
- Apply the organic fertilizer well in advance of harvest to avoid any possibility of contamination of the product.
- According to the norms in force it is forbidden to use sewage mud and organic urban residues as soil amendments that have not been previously composted. It must be taken into account that the restriction in the use of these organic amendments determines that they will not be applied during the cultivation period.
- Heavy metals content of organic fertilizers should be within the maximum limits established.
- Do not use organic fertilizers contaminated with heavy metals or with other chemicals whose maximum limits are not certain.
- The places where the composting is carried out should be isolated from the places where cultivation takes place or where the material harvested is handled or stored.
- In the case of using inorganic or chemical fertilizers, these should be registered in SENASA, and used in the recommended doses observing the established waiting periods, to avoid leaving residues potentially toxic for human health.
4.3.9 Phytosanitary products:
- Use phytosanitary products only when other control methods are not effective.
- Use only those products registered by SENASA and recommended for the specific crop/pest/disease, keeping in mind the particularities of each region.
- Verify the integrity of containers, labels, and tags of the purchased products.
- Keep the phytosanitary products in their original containers with their respective labels and tags.
- To avoid the possibility of contamination store them in locked deposits isolated from places where cultivation takes place or where the product harvested is handled or stored. These places will be well ventilated and illuminated with natural and artificial light.
- Allow the access to the deposit only to properly qualified personnel that have a full knowledge of its handling and of the implicit dangers, including the possibility of contamination of the product.
- Place phytosanitary products in shelves according to their type (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.), formulation, and container.
- Where phytosanitary products are stored, it must be ONE (1) list with addresses and telephones for emergencies in a visible place.
- Prepare and apply the agrochemicals observing the label recommendations concerning doses, moment of application, environmental conditions, quality of the water for dilutions, etc.
- No smoking, eating or drinking during the preparation and application of the agrochemical.
- Workers should be fully familiarized with the dangers that chemicals represent to human health, including the possibility of leaving toxic residues in the product. - Personnel handling agrochemicals should wear appropriate clothes, and should be aware of all the norms and procedures for the safe use of pesticides.
- Maintain sprayers in good operation and calibrate them properly before use. - Wash the sprayer carefully after each application to eliminate residues and to avoid the corrosion of equipment.
- Observe the waiting periods between application and harvest.
- Containers of liquid agrochemicals should be washed three times before been perforated or destroyed.
- Elimination of agrochemical containers should cause the smallest possible impact on the environment. Use the official services for collection and disposal.
- Observe the manufacturer's instructions for their destruction. Do not keep or reuse them.
- Avoid exposure of humans or animals to the discarded containers.
4.3.10 Planting material:
- Planting material should be properly identified, grafts as well as their rootstocks and free from pests and diseases that may be introduced to the soil or substrate, according to Law No. 20.247 and its regulations in force.
- If available, it is advisable to use material certified by the competent Official Organism.
- As much as possible use varieties/cultivars with genetic resistance to the most important pests and diseases and adapted to the agroclimatic conditions of the area, as a way to minimize the use of phytosanitary products.
- Take the necessary precautions to reduce its deterioration (drying, contamination with harmful substances, pathogenic microorganisms, pests and diseases, loss of the germinating capacity, etc.) if not planted immediately.
- Each establishment should be evaluated individually to identify the specific hygienic requirements. Although in most of the farms the permanent facilities (houses, bathrooms, sheds, tanks, mills, pumps, greenhouses, deposits, etc.) are already installed, it is important to study the general layout to avoid cross-contaminations and to be able to define areas according to their higher or lower degree of contamination. It is also important to determine the flow of the product going always from the more contaminated areas to the less contaminated ones. In the same way, within the facilities (sheds, houses, greenhouses, etc.) the flow of the product should minimize the possibility of cross-contamination. If the farm layout can be planned from the beginning the Good Agricultural Practices concept should be kept in mind.
- The facilities and their expansions and/or improvements (windbreaks, mills, tanks, sheds, greenhouses, etc.) should:
Be located in places where there is no threat to the innocuousness or aptitude of the food (contaminated environment, close industrial activities, flood possibility or infestation by plagues, areas without efficient waste disposal, etc.).
Be of solid construction and designed in such a way as to avoid harboring pests and their proliferation.
Allow adequate maintenance, cleaning, and disinfecting when it is needed.
- Have enough space to carry out in a satisfactory way all the operations.
- When the facilities are used for several purposes, such as a shelter for farm equipment, deposit of containers, of animal food or seeds, etc., it is fundamental to separate the operations susceptible of contaminating food by means of compartments, reserved places or other effective ways.
- If housing for permanent and/or temporary personnel is within the farm boundaries, it must be of solid construction, well maintained and hygienic and with enough room for everyone.
- Electrical circuits in every facility (housing, sheds, offices, deposits, etc.) should be safe and protected with safety devices like differential circuit breakers, ground connection, thermal switches, double insulated cables, etc. to avoid accidents either by direct or indirect contact.
18.104.22.168 Bathrooms and latrines
This subject will be specially addressed due to the importance these facilities have, since they are possible contamination sources and because their management in agriculture is difficult. It is necessary to emphasize the importance of their existence to avoid having field personnel urinating and defecating in the open, facilitating the contamination of fruit products under cultivation.
Wrong wastewater and solid waste management can cause food contamination.
- Field personnel should be provided with bathrooms, toilets, latrines, and lavatories. These facilities can be permanent or portable.
- The quantity of bathrooms and lavatories should conform to established municipal regulations, according to the number of workers that use them.
- The easier the access to these facilities, the greater the possibilities to use them.
- Their use must be allowed at any moment and not only during the rest periods, to avoid evacuations at any place (included cultivation lands).
- These facilities should not be located near sources of agricultural water or in places easily flooded or where the runoff can destroy them and contaminate the areas downstream.
- Permanent or portable toilets or latrines should be well built, with materials and fittings easy to clean.
- Wastes can be eliminated by tank trucks, providing their easy access to the bathrooms through ducts that go to septic tanks located far from agricultural areas, packing sheds or other places where food is handled, or through any other system that maintains the hygiene of the working place.
- An emergency plan should exist in case of any leakage or overflow of the sewage system and the personnel should be trained for this emergency.
- Bathrooms should be provided with enough quantity of inputs for the personnel's hygiene (toilet paper, soap, paper towels and a wastebasket).
- Bathrooms and lavatories have to be cleaned and disinfected daily or with a periodicity in accordance with the intensity of their use.
- Tanks supplying water to the lavatory should be emptied, cleaned, disinfected and filled again with drinking water regularly.
4.3.12 Equipment, containers and instruments:
- The equipment (machinery, irrigation equipment), the instruments (shears, knives, clasp knives, tools, etc.) and the reusable containers (harvest containers, etc.) that will be in contact with food should be designed and manufactured to keep them clean, disinfected, and in an appropriate way to avoid food contamination.
- Materials used in their construction should not have toxicants that could contaminate food with their use.
- The equipment and instruments should function according to their specific use, without deteriorating the food (sharp knives and shears, farm machinery clean and in good repair, irrigation equipment in good operating conditions, etc.).
- Specially, perform preventive maintenance to pumps, motors, and equipment used for irrigation. Verify that pump and electric motors are ground connected to prevent electric shocks.
- Ladders used for harvest will comply with the conditions that guarantee the operator's safety.
- In the particular case of THREE (3) legs ladders, they should be preserved with colourless materials to facilitate the view of their conservation state.
Soil tilling should be done only to improve its conditions and/or when the crop requires it and with techniques and equipment that minimize its impact.
Soil disinfection and/or sterilization by chemical means should be justified, given priority to alternative practices as solarization, crop rotations, the use of resistant cultivars, etc.
4.5 Frost control
Frost control should be performed according to critical temperatures and periods for each species and cultivar. In the event of using heating systems, those generating the lowest emission of harmful substances and offering the greatest possible operating safety should be adopted. Heaters should have a chimney, being advisable the use of fuels with the lowest fume emissions. Observe the legislation in force.
If overhead irrigation is used for frost control, special care should be taken with water quality to avoid the microbiological or chemical contamination of products.
People in primary production should have adequate personal hygiene, behave and act adequately, and know their functions and responsibilities in protecting food from contamination and deterioration. In general, they should comply with that established in item 4.7.4.
Gather the product of commercial interest in such a way to keep its quality and sanity and avoiding its contamination during harvest.
Due to their characteristics, fruits are susceptible to damages, bruises and contamination during harvest and transport to the packing place.
4.7.3 General considerations:
It is advisable to schedule the activities and anticipate the needed harvest inputs to organize the personnel to work efficiently and without delays.
During the harvest:
- Keep organized the harvest place because it contributes to hygiene, efficiency, and speed of all activities.
- Harvest in the appropriate state of maturity for each product and use the best detaching method for the species (pull, cut, twist, etc.). Take a sample of the harvested product with the desirable maturity degree, size, and colour and use it as reference for the field supervisors or harvesting team leaders. Give clear instructions before starting the work, checking that the workers have understood them.
- Avoid working at hours of high temperature, when dew is still on crop, after a rain or with high environmental humidity.
- Under no circumstances leave on the field harvest residues, fallen fruits and culls because these will rot and contaminate the place increasing the inoculum level. They must be collected and destroyed appropriately (burnt, buried, etc.).
Harvested product must be:
- Placed carefully in the harvest or definitive container and it should not be thrown, hit, pressed or rubbed.
- Transported quickly to the packing place,
- Hauled in such a way as to avoid bruising and damage. Level and maintain clean farm internal roads, reduce tire pressure and make drivers aware of the importance of driving carefully and at low speed.
- Load and unload to and from any containers with special care, instructing and controlling the harvesters and other handling personnel about the importance of handling. - If it is not packed immediately, maintain product in the shade, under an open shed or adequately covered from weather.
- Prevent dehydration, particularly during the hottest part of the day. Some measures to take would be to place shading nets, water sprays, cover them with wet sackcloth and to reduce the time between harvest and transport to the shed.
- The personnel should have the sanitary document issued by the corresponding authority.
- All workers should contribute to their own personal hygiene.
- Those showing illness symptoms, jaundice, diarrheas, cough, notorious skin lesions, etc., should inform the supervisor. He/she will be separated from the area in direct contact with the food and a physician should intervene to check his/her aptitude for returning to the workplace. Any wound in the hands should be covered with adhesive bands, and gloves should be used if needed.
- Jewelry and other personal objects that can harm the products and the worker himself should be forbidden, fingernails must be short and, gloves must be used if needed. - Workers should not be allowed to carry pets to the working place that can contaminate the product with feces, urine, and other contaminant elements through paws, hair, etc.
- Do not eat in the orchard nor leave residues that can rot and produce contamination. - Comfortable working conditions, safe equipment and adequate tools should be provided as well as instruction about their handling and maintenance.
- Material of wooden boxes, baskets, bins, definitive containers or any other harvest container should be suitable to be in contact with food allowing easy cleaning and disinfection. Their design should be appropriate to the work and the weight of the product to be contained.
- Clean and disinfect the containers at the beginning of the season and every time that they are used.
- Place plastic covers or padded coverings inside the bins or harvest boxes, to avoid or cushion the pressure of the product against their walls.
- Do not overfill the containers to avoid the deterioration of the product.
- When loading the containers in the field, it is advisable to keep them covered to protect them from sun.
4.7.6 Equipment and instruments:
- Keep in good repair working instruments - shears, knives, pliers or other tools and so they will not damage the product but safe for the workers.
- The equipment, tools, instruments, and harvest containers used should be cleaned and disinfected regularly during work.
4.7.7 Direct marketing of fruit products and "U-pick" systems:
Many fruit establishments sell their products directly "on the plant" or allow the customers to gather the fruits by themselves through the "U-pick" system. In both cases the producer should inform that the establishment has a program of good agricultural practices, and encourage the customer to comply with that established in accordance with these measures.
5 Packinghouse or packing shed
To achieve that the market preparation of product (cleaning, disinfection, selection, etc.), presentation, and packing, be performed to maintain its quality and sanity, avoiding any contamination during this process.
Fruits are susceptible to damage and chemical, physical, and biological contamination during conditioning and packing.
Packinghouses, open sheds or any other place for the conditioning and packing of fruits should be located in areas that:
- Are free of environmental contamination due to industrial activities or of another nature that are dangerous to the product's hygiene and to the consumer's health.
- Do not have flood risk.
- Are not exposed to any pest infestation (rodents or other animals dangerous for transmitting diseases).
- Allow the proper disposal of the waters from cleaning and treatment of product, building, facilities, and equipment.
- Have paved, consolidated, compacted access roads so that they allow the passage of vehicles without contaminating the atmosphere with dust from the road and with adequate rainwater drainage. Additionally, conveniently separated from areas dedicated to animal raising or areas with abundant wild animals.
5.4 Size, design and layout
- Size should be adequate to the volume of product to be processed, size of the equipment, the storage capacity and with enough space for the personnel to move around and work comfortably.
- Design and layout of different sectors will facilitate the sanitation operations, avoiding cross-contamination from dirty areas, either by air or by contact.
- Separation of the different sectors will be made by specific hygienic procedures for the end pursued.
- Specific places for storage of packing materials and chemical products used during the conditioning (detergents, fungicides, additives, etc.) should be provided.
- If products are packed under open sheds, it will be convenient to protect from dust with canvas or other material (as curtains), fastened at the top and at the bottom of the structure.
- It is advisable to have adequate facilities to keep tools, inputs. equipment and other materials, as well as to perform maintenance works.
- There must be parking areas within the perimeter for all vehicles used in the operation, but external parking space for those not related with the activity. Maximum allowed speed and other traffic signals should be posted and clearly visible.
- The roof, floor, walls, doors, and windows should be built with waterproof, nonporous, nontoxic materials but easily cleaned and disinfected.
- The floor should be of a non-slippery material resistant to traffic, with an appropriate slope to facilitate drainage, and without cracks that accumulate dirt.
- Windows should be insect proof, removable for cleaning and for avoiding dirt accumulation.
- The aerial structures, roofs, stairways, and elevators should be designed, built, and maintained to prevent contamination and be safe for the personnel.
- To provide a correct ventilation to reduce to a minimum the risk of contamination of the products from drops of condensation water, harmful dust or molds, and to regulate the temperature of the environment.
- Have enough ventilation entrances allowing the periodic replacement of filters.
- Airflow should never go from a dirty area to a clean one.
- There must be enough illumination, natural and/or artificial, to facilitate the performance of the operations according to their characteristics.
- Lights should not alter the natural colour of the products.
- Artificial light sources on the place in which food is handled should be covered to prevent glass dissemination on product in the event of breakage.
- The electric installation will have the safety devices (differential circuit breaker, ground connection, thermal switches, double isolated wiring) to avoid accidents by direct or indirect contact.
- There must be adequate facilities to distribute drinking water.
- Non-drinking water (i.e. the fire control system, refrigeration, etc.) should circulate through separate pipes and perfectly differentiated from those of drinking water.
- No cross connections should exist in the provision of drinking and non-drinking water.
- Drainage or similar sources of possible contamination, should be designed to prevent the reflux.
- When the storage of water is necessary, tanks should be designed, built, and maintained to prevent contamination.
- It is advisable to use equipment designed for the work and the product to be packed, to minimize damages to the product (i.e. eliminate all type of sharp edges, avoid abrupt drops, etc.).
- Equipment, tools, machines used for maintenance works will have the safety devices recommended by the manufacturer.
- All the equipment and instruments that can be in contact with the food should be made with materials that do not transmit toxic substances, odors or flavors, not absorbent, and able to resist corrosion and repeated operations of cleaning and disinfection.
- Equipment and utensils used for wastes and cleaning should be marked indicating their use and they should not be used with edible products.
5.10 Facilities for the personnel's hygiene
- There must be facilities suitable for personal hygiene.
- The sanitary facilities and wardrobes should not have direct access or communication with the areas where the product is handled.
- It is advisable that the access doors to the sanitary facilities close automatically.
- The cleaning and disinfection of the sanitary facilities should be made daily and with a periodicity in accordance with the intensity of their use.
- There must be enough drinking water (cold-hot) for the adequate hygiene of the workers, with automatic faucets to avoid their manual operation and accessories for a hygienic hand washing and drying (soap and disposable towels).
- Place posters with the hygienic norms that the workers must observe, in all the necessary places.
- When packing is made under more modest conditions or directly in the field, there must be specific places for toilets and drinking water for the workers hygiene will be supplied by means of tanks or cisterns. (see item 22.214.171.124)
- It is advisable to designate a place suitable for wardrobe and dressing room, physically separated from the sanitary facilities and from the areas of food handling.
5.11 Maintenance, cleaning and safety of the facilities and equipment
- Order should be maintained and an appropriate cleaning and disinfection of the place, facilities, equipment, and utensils, should be done daily as a minimum.
- The volume, temperature, and water pressure should be adequate for the operations as well as for cleaning work.
- Good operation and condition of the equipment should be checked
- Frequent disinfections of the facilities with permitted products should be undertaken
- Pest infestations should be controlled immediately. Any treatment with chemical, physical or biological products should be performed without threatening food safety.
- Access roads and external sectors of the facilities should remain clean, clear, free of residues, weeds or spontaneous vegetation that may harbor pests or rodents.
- Wastes produced during preparation for the market should be removed from the facilities and disposed in such a way to avoid the contamination of food, drinking water, packing materials, equipment, etc.
- There must be elements for the prevention and control of fires according to the area of the facilities, as well as first-aid kits. Their condition should be verified periodically.
- Quality, sanity, hygiene and innocuousness of the product should be preserved after harvest independly if it was prepared in a packinghouse, open shed or in the field.
- Other treatments are product specific like for example cleaning, disinfection, protection, enhancement, selection, and packing.
5.12.1 Reception of the product:
- Products should not be accepted coming from the field containing parasites, undesirable microorganisms, agricultural chemicals or other toxic substances that cannot be reduced to an acceptable level with the post-harvest treatments. When appropriate, laboratory analysis should be performed to check if these raw materials are fit for consumption.
- Verify the quality and general condition of the product. In some products, it is necessary to determine the maturity degree to give them the most suitable destination.
- Raw materials should be stored under conditions to reduce to a minimum the damages and deterioration and to guarantee protection against contamination.
- Raw materials that are inadequate for fresh consumption should be removed and disposed in such a way to avoid the contamination of food, water, and environment.
Dirt should be eliminated (soil or other foreign materials), in a wet (with water) or dry way (vibration, brushing, etc.), according to the product.
When the wet method is used it must be considered that:
The cleaning water should be drinking water containing ONE (1) sanitizer. Sodium hypochlorite is the most widespread, at a concentration lethal to pathogens on the surface of product but without damaging it.
A periodic water renovation is made to avoid excessive accumulation of dirt and fungus spores.
Effectiveness of the disinfection treatment is a function of the concentration of the active principle and the time of the treatment. pH and the accumulation of organic matter alter the concentration of this active principle. For that reason, it is fundamental to monitor the pH as well as a periodic replacement of the solution.
If hydrocooling is performed, drinking water containing the sanitizer should be used. It must kept in mind that if water is recirculated, it should be changed regularly to prevent accumulation of dirt with the successive passages.
Allowed detergent substances should be used for washing which must be rinsed to avoid leaving residues.
- If the product is dried by hot air, temperature and treatment time should be strictly controlled.
- For waxing and/or postharvest disease control with fungicides:
Only use substances approved by SENASA.
If simultaneously applied, control the proper operation of the mixing mechanism in the container where wax and fungicide are mixed.
Control the operation of the application equipment for wax and/or fungicides, because nozzles can be obstructed, drip or produce an uneven coverage of product.
An inadequate fungicide or wax application can affect consumer's health.
- Only new and clean materials should be used. When using wooden containers observe the current legislation.
- Re-usable containers should be cleaned and disinfected correctly and must be approved by SENASA.
- If packing materials are stored, it has to be done in clean areas, closed and adequately protected against the entrance of pests and rodents.
- Assign people responsibility for checking, removing and destruction of containers in bad condition and/or dirty.
- To avoid cross-contamination, packaged produce either ready to be delivered to the market or to be stored should not go across the dirty area or areas corresponding to previous preparation steps.
- The personnel should have the Sanitary Document issued by the corresponding authority.
- They should be qualified for the tasks they perform.
- They should maintain their own personal hygiene, that of their clothes and equipment if they are responsible for some in particular.
- No smoking, eating, drinking, spitting or chewing gum is allowed in the working place.
- Clothing should be suitable for the type of work he/she performs.
- Hands should be washed conscientiously every time they use the bathroom, before starting to work or after handling contaminated materials.
- Short and well-maintained fingernails should be required and, if necessary, the use of gloves. Cosmetics are not allowed on hands because they can stain or contaminate product with odors and/or flavors.
- Wounds in the hands must be covered correctly with adhesive bands.
- The person with illness symptoms, diarrheas, cough, notorious skin lesions, etc., should report his/her condition to the supervisor and should leave the area in direct contact with food and be seen by a physician. Before returning to work, his health condition should be checked.
- Breaks should not be taken in the working place.
- Short working shifts are recommended to reduce fatigue caused by routine work. - Visitors, inspectors, buyers, and other non-working people must observe the hygienic practices established when they handle or inspect the product.
Maintain the quality, sanity, and innocuousness of the harvested product.
A correct storage of the product prolongs its shelf life.
6.3 General considerations
- Keep in mind the storage environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, and atmosphere) required for each product.
- If several products are stored in the same place, their ideal storage conditions should be similar.
- Storage facilities should be designed and built to:
Allow adequate maintenance and cleaning.
Avoid the access and nesting of pests.
Allow an efficient food protection against contamination.
Reduce fruit deterioration to minimum (i.e. by controlling temperature and humidity).
- Food should not be stored in the same place with products that affect its conservation time or organoleptic characteristics, as for example fish, fertilizers, gasoline, lubricant oils, etc., - Storage facilities should stay clean and correctly disinfected.
- Forklifts handling product should not be used to move garbage, waste, equipment, etc. If so wash and disinfect properly.
Help to retain innocuousness and integrity of harvested products.
During transportation and handling, produce has a great possibility of contamination
7.3 General considerations
- Products will be transported protected from environmental conditions and, when necessary, refrigerated to avoid their contamination or deterioration.
- Transportation vehicles should be completely clean, disinfected, and dry before loading.
- It is advisable to load and unload during daytime (at night, artificial light attracts insects that can go into the containers) in places separated from where the product is processed, but protected from weather conditions and from possible contamination.
- Load and unload pallets or individual containers gently to avoid wounds and bruises due to impacts or vibration.
- Secure the load to the compartment to avoid movement during travel that could harm the quality of the product and to avoid possible accidents to the personnel.
- Keep in mind the compatibility of ideal holding conditions for each product in mixed loads (temperature, ethylene production and sensitivity to it, humidity, etc.).
- Non-food products can contaminate fruits with foreign odors or toxic residues or any other substance that implies a health risk.
- For the refrigerated transport it is suggested:
The loading area must be refrigerated.
Precool the vehicle compartment to the desired temperature before loading it.
Accommodate the pallets or individual containers inside the vehicle to ensure cold air circulation through and around them.
Check the good operating conditions of the refrigeration equipment and that is adapted to the requirements of the product in particular.
Include thermographs in the load to check that the right temperature was maintained during transportation.
Corroborate the integrity of walls, floor, roof, and doors of the load compartment, since through any opening or crack heat, dirt, and insects can enter or cold and humidity can be lost. Check the correct operation and closing of ventilation doors and openings.
Verify the cleaning of the equipment because remaining odors from previous loads, residues of toxic substances, presence of insects or their nests may affect the quality of the load. In the same way, dirt or product remains could affect the air circulation.
- Avoid contamination by combustion gases by parking the transportation vehicles in places isolated from the area where products are handled.
- Vehicles should have the safety devices established in the legislation in force (National Law of Transport).
- Drivers should have the corresponding authorization for driving transportation vehicles.
To ensure that personnel working at each step in the cultivation and preparation for the market have full knowledge of good hygienic and agricultural practices and be aware of their role and responsibility in maintaining the hygiene, quality, and innocuousness of the products.
Training is of fundamental importance in any system of food hygiene. Insufficient training and/or instruction and supervision of the hygiene of any person that participates in food handling, represents a possible threat to the safety food products and to their fitness for consumption.
8.3 Knowledge and responsibilities
- There must be supervisors at each step of the cultivation and preparation for the market who should control the production and handling procedures as well as the products harvested.
- Personnel should have deep knowledge of their tasks at any of the production steps to obtain the fresh fruit product (production/conditioning/packing/storage/transportation), and will also be responsible for its protection against contamination and deterioration.
8.4 Training program and knowledge update
- Train and supervise the personnel periodically to detect and correct mistakes.
- Implement periodic training and updating sessions.
- Training should be designed to allow a better understanding of the importance of certain handling practices, in particular about sanitation or personal hygiene.
- It is advisable to have joint training of the personnel that work at different steps of the production process.
- Training programs should be revised periodically and, if necessary, they must be updated according to the demands of the process.
- All the workers that handle and use agrochemicals and those working with dangerous or complex equipment, should receive specific instruction and training and must be qualified for that job.
Trained personnel should have periodic supervision. Supervisors should have the necessary knowledge on principles and practices of food hygiene, and able to evaluate possible risks as well as to adopt the necessary measures to solve the problems they face.
9 Documentation and records
- Be able to detect in time at what stage of the process there is an error and to solve it appropriately.
- Establish the exact origin of the production.
- Know the production procedures of the product.
- Reduce error risks inherent to purely oral communication.
Documentation favors quick tracking of problematic situations.
9.3 General considerations
- Document all the tasks that constitute the different processes. With that purpose instructive documents (specifications and handling of equipment, procedures to apply chemical products, etc.) and record data (monitoring of the concentration of the microbiological and chemical level in the water, etc.). The minimum information that should be known includes: information about the producer and production parameters, of workers, production ways, equipment and techniques, raw material, inputs and ingredients, weather conditions, phytosanitary treatments, storage, transportation, analysis results, incidents, modifications, etc.
- Ensure that all the personnel are well instructed regarding the knowledge needed for any stage of the production process.
- It will be useful to provide information of each product lot on the primary production (cultivation-harvest), packing procedures, storage conditions and of transportation.
- The instructive documents will be written following a logical sequence of the procedures or tasks, in an imperative, precise, clear language, accessible to the readers. They should be up to date.
- Forms for recording data should be easy to complete and should have enough space for the information.
- Record information from incoming products like quantity, general condition of the product, maturity indexes, etc.
- Where it corresponds, plans, procedures, and flow charts should be available. - According to the production areas and species produced some required information must be collected.
10 Traceability and product recall
- All people responsible for the production-marketing chain will have to design a set of procedures to insure the surveillance and characterization of the product from any point of the food chain. That means the existence of a documentation and recording system that allows a retroactive tracking of the product throughout the whole chain.
- To implement a traceability scheme it is necessary to have documents that accompany the product carrying all the information from origin.
- With a traceability system, if there is a claim from a client or if some danger to consumer's safety is detected, the packers will be able to locate and recall product totally and quickly and investigate the origin of the problem.
- Products that could represent a danger should be kept under surveillance until they could be eliminated appropriately.