What is a growing site?
A growing site is any site used to grow fresh produce. This includes open areas or fields, as well as partially or fully enclosed planting areas such as greenhouses and hydroponic facilities.
What are the requirements?
Primary producers of leafy vegetables and melons must do what they reasonably can to make sure their growing site does not make produce unacceptable to eat, from contamination with harmful bacteria, chemicals or physical hazards.
This means you need to know about your growing site, what it was used for previously, what is happening nearby and what other potential sources of contamination exist.
Where you identify there are risks of contaminating your produce (e.g. land that was previously used for waste management could contaminate produce grown on that site), you must take action to eliminate or manage those sources of contamination.
Does this apply to me?
In the Standards:
- A primary producer is a business that grows and/or harvests leafy vegetables or melons.
- A primary processor is a business that does any of the following with leafy vegetables or melons: washing, trimming, sorting, sanitising, storing, combining, packing, and transporting between packhouses.
Getting it right – reducing your risk
As best practice, things you can do to make sure your growing site is safe and suitable to grow and harvest your produce include:
- Know what previous crops were planted, what weeds were present and what chemical sprays were applied. Some weeds can be toxic and can produce seeds that emerge years later and some chemicals can remain in the soil for a period of time.
- Walk or drive around the growing site before planting, and at least within a week of harvest, to assess the site and surrounding area for sources of contamination (e.g. damaged fence allowing livestock in from an adjacent paddock or toxic weeds such as Datura stramonium).
- Growing areas should not be located where it is likely harmful bacteria could pose a high risk of contamination (e.g. if adjacent land is used for a feedlot or poultry production).
- Check growing and surrounding areas for toxic weeds throughout the crop’s lifecycle; this is especially important just before harvesting.
- If potential hazards are identified, buffer areas, ditches, physical barriers and other strategies can be used to minimise the likelihood of contamination.
What do I need to do?
- Contact your state/territory food regulatory authority for more details on the requirements you must meet under the standard.
- Read more on each of the requirements in the standards and what it means for your business in Chapter 4: Primary production standards (Australia only).
- Read the Fresh Produce Safety Centre – Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety 2022.
- Read Managing food safety risks associated with toxic weeds in leafy vegetables.