Bushfires pose risk to food safety

Fresh Produce Safety Centre releases fact sheet on bushfire effects

Horticulture
STAY AWAY: Water sources in areas of bushfire-affected land can be contaminated and therefore pose a risk to food safety.

STAY AWAY: Water sources in areas of bushfire-affected land can be contaminated and therefore pose a risk to food safety.

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The effects of bushfires on food safety aren't often considered.

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WATER sources contaminated by dead animals during a bushfire hold serious implications for on farm food safety.

That's one of the points to come out of a new fact sheet released from the Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC).

The FPSC's latest fact sheet provides information for Australian and New Zealand food businesses about how bushfires can impact the safety and quality of fresh fruit and vegetables and what can be done in the event of a bushfire, for fruit and vegetable growers and producers.

FPSC chair Dr Andreas Klieber said the fact sheet was produced to help businesses understand the food safety risks associated with bushfires.

"This is the latest in a series of fact sheets produced by FPSC aimed to help the fresh produce industry in our region improve food safety, by preparing for and responding to food safety risks," he said.

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The author of the fact sheet, associate professor Tina Bell of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture at the University of Sydney one of the key risks of bushfires for growers, after the immediate impact on human/animal health and property, is the impact of fire on water sources.

"Water sources, including dams, creeks and rivers, can be contaminated by dead animals after a bushfire, and may also be impacted by chemical spills (due to damaged infrastructure) and increased sedimentation," associate professor Bell said.

"Growers need to be aware that bodies of smaller animals (e.g mice and rats, small native animals) may pose just as much of a risk of microbial contamination to water sources as larger, more obvious animal carcasses (e.g, sheep, cows, kangaroos).

"Sediment slugs, resulting from ash and topsoil being washed into water bodies, are another risk after bushfire, as the fire may remove surrounding stabilising vegetation.

DOWNLOAD: The cover from the FPSC fact sheet on the effects of bushfires on food safety. Click on the image to download the document.

DOWNLOAD: The cover from the FPSC fact sheet on the effects of bushfires on food safety. Click on the image to download the document.

"Sediment slugs can promote the growth of toxic algal blooms in water sources.

"Growers should continue to check water quality (microbiological and chemical) after a bushfire, as contamination from dead animals (large and small) and increased sedimentation is a continued risk."

This fact sheet follows the recent release FPSC's fact sheet on Food Defence and another fact sheet on Food Safety Culture.

Download the fact sheet HERE.

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The story Bushfires pose risk to food safety first appeared on Goondiwindi Argus.

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