Food safety and quality
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Microbiological hazards associated with fresh produce


Problems linked with pathogenic micro-organisms in fresh produce, including associated public health and trade implications, have been reported in a number of countries worldwide. In noting this, the 38th Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH) requested FAO and WHO to provide scientific advice to support the development of commodity specific annexes for the Codex Alimentarius “Code of Hygienic Practice for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables”.

In highlighting the need to address aspects related to the control of specific hazards of concern in particular fruit and vegetable products in more detail, the Committee provided terms of reference as guidance to the type of scientific advice required.

These terms of reference are extensive, and span the whole food chain. Given the need to provide advice in a timely manner FAO and WHO will address the various tasks, including the specific pathogen-commodity combinations to be addressed, in a prioritized manner.


Microbiological hazards associated with fresh produce

Following the request of the 38th session FAO and WHO have initiated work to provide scientific advice on microbiological hazards in fresh produce.

On 19 – 21 September 2007, FAO and WHO implemented a meeting of 10 experts to review the available data and identify the priority issues to be addressed from a global perspective. The report of the meeting is now available.

Based on the recommendations of the 2007 meeting the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene agreed that guidelines for the control of microbiological hazards in fresh leafy vegetables and herbs should be developed as a matter of priority and requested FAO and WHO to provide additional scientific advice to facilitate that process. Therefore, FAO and WHO implemented an expert meeting on this issue on 5 - 9 May 2008. The report of this meeting is now available.

FAO already has an extensive capacity building programme of activities to enhance the safety and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables. Therefore, in elaborating scientific advice as a basis for the development of management guidance on the control of microbiological hazards in fresh fruits and vegetables, FAO and WHO are taking into consideration information generated by these activities as well as data and information available in the peer reviewed literature and material submitted to FAO and WHO in response to the call for data.