Public and Private Food Safety Standards: Facilitating or Frustrating Fresh Produce Growers?
Global private food safety and quality standards have undergone some major overhauls during the past two decades, and these will continue to evolve with the recent emphasis on harmonization. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) attempts to ensure that harmonize retail standards are commendable and elegant in principle, but in practice, retailers continue to demand their own standard, whilst supporting GFSI’s benchmarking program. It is difficult to see such retailers giving up their own standards and the control they currently exert as chain captains. There is also the risk that too much harmonization will result in these standards losing their individuality and uniqueness. Amidst the struggle for private standard dominance, alternative approaches to risk management (e.g., self-assessment of risk, independent audits and risk ranking) may be the way forward, similar to how insurance risks are calculated for businesses. Furthermore, this risk-based approach could also lead to the effective implementation of co-regulation, where both public and private sector compliances are addressed together—a win-win situation. This paper considers the implications and future trends of fresh produce farming, and identifies five interventions ( i.e. , assurance schemes), which include the do-nothing scenario to underpinning one’s brand or label with an existing scheme.
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