Growers with audits scheduled in impacted areas
When possible, growers should contact their Certification Body directly to advise them that they have been impacted by recent extreme events.
Contact details for all Certification Bodies can be found here: https://www.freshcare.com.au/search-directory/certification-body/
There are guidelines in-place that allow the Certification Body to assess individual business needs and impacts related to their audit cycle to minimise disruptions to their certification. The guidelines allow for audit deferral and rescheduling due to extenuating circumstances.
Growers that are in impacted regions but have properties that are not directly affected by flooding, may still experience disruptions to their audit cycle due to road and airport closures. Certification Bodies will work with these growers to reallocate audits to ensure their audits can be rebooked as soon as possible.
Flood impacted sites and produce food safety
The following guidelines should be considered by all growers that have been impacted by a flood event:
- Produce that has been in direct contact with floodwater should not be harvested for human consumption.
- Risks of crop/produce contact with flood water, either from direct contact with floodwater or indirectly through splashing, must be evaluated before produce can be harvested.
- Contamination of growing sites, risks include:
- Microbial (sewerage, animal waste, dead animals and decaying vegetative waste);
- Chemicals (from spilled drums, on farm fuel sources, other industrial sources, such as fuel stations, oil waste from mechanics etc); and
- Foreign objects (including metal, glass, wood, plastic).
- Handwashing and using disinfectant such as alcohol gel is important for people working in flood impacted areas, to prevent the spread of disease and illness.
- Thorough cleaning and disinfection using food grade chemicals must be applied to:
- all product contact materials including produce bins and harvest equipment both hand-held and machinery;
- chemical application equipment;
- irrigation lines and water storage sources, including any roofs and gutters that feed into water storage tanks, if impacted by flood water;
- floors, walls, and ceilings of all storage and packing areas.
- Items that cannot be cleaned must be segregated and disposed of including all packaging materials such as labels, flow wrap, packaging, and cardboard.
- Waste must be stored well away from produce and packing areas.
- Pest activity will increase, so increase monitoring of rodent bait stations and other insect traps to minimise contamination.
- Increased pest and disease factors will need to be considered and additional treatments may need to be applied in the months post flood.
- Other things to consider – re-calibration of chemical application equipment, and other quality control tools including back-up suppliers.
Queensland natural disaster assistance
The Queensland Government is currently seeking submissions from small business and primary producers on how they have been impacted by Tropical Cyclone Jasper and what assistance and support they require. Find out more at Business Queensland.