Dear Fresh Produce Members,

I write to update you on the discussions we had during our recent sector board meeting held on the 3rd July.

The recent  E.coli outbreak was a key focus of discussion with members sharing updates on the Food Standards Agency’s investigation which has been linked to retailer pre-packed sandwiches. At this time there are no conclusive findings to identify the source of the STEC O145 and the investigation is still live. However the board members did discuss ways in which, once more information was known, Red Tractor could help support the industry and review if there are lessons to learn. One potential next step could be similar to the 2013 E.coli outbreak in watercress a few years ago where the industry / FSA risk management process was developed as a result. Red Tractor then made it available as an add on to the scheme for relevant growers. The topic will be discussed further once more information on the current outbreak is known.

The Board discussed member communication and value of being a certified Red Tractor grower. The importance of implementing processes around food safety standards to protect the business was highlighted with some members discussing how certification can be used as a part of a legal defence if problems arise. They agreed a technical briefing outlining the value of the standards would be useful.

We looked at how we can work with the vining pea industry to identify options for streamlining the assessment process taking into account the PO structure. There is more work to do in this area but it led into a planned workshop on the Future of Assurance. This was an open round table discussion on a wide range of topics including the balance of paperwork, policies and procedures versus implementation on the farm, how technology and data may help efficiency and categorisation of risk in future.

Members also provided various updates on the state of the UK season covering topics such as the wet spring and challenges around border controls.

Kind regards,

Lucy MacLennan,

Chair, Red Tractor Fresh Produce board

Fresh Produce board:

Sarah Blanford – Retailer

Veryan Bliss – Technical Consultant

Tim Casey – Grower and NFU

Peter Illman – Retailer

Damon Johnson – Retailer, BRC

David Kennedy – Technical Consultant

James Lee – Grower

         Phil Pearson, Grower

Kelly Shields – Fresh Produce Consortium

Stephen Shields – Grower