Managing farm manures for food safety guidance
Wednesday 3 June 2009
Food Standards Agency guidance on managing farm manures to help reduce the number of consumers that get food poisoning from ready-to-eat crops.
The guidance, and the supporting final Regulatory Impact Assessment, can be found at the links below.
Farm manures that are applied to agricultural land to meet crop nutrient requirements and improve soil fertility can contain pathogenic micro-organisms responsible for causing foodborne illness. These micro-organisms include E. coli O157, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.
Storage and use of farm manures must therefore be managed to reduce the risks of contaminating crops. This is particularly important for ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables that will be eaten raw.
The guidance aims to provide UK growers with practical advice on how to reduce the risk of contamination of ready-to-eat crops when using farm manures to improve soil fertility.
In summary, the main aspects of the guidance are:
- the selection of land on which ready-to-eat crops are grown
- management of manures and slurries before application to land
- timing of applications of manure (including fresh manure from grazing animals) and slurry, in relation to production of ready-to-eat crops
- prevention of contamination of growing crops and reduction of risks during and after harvest
The guidance was produced by a steering group, chaired by the Food Standards Agency, and included representatives from the consultancy ADAS, Defra, the Environment Agency, the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department and key industry stakeholders.
The guidance provides advice on good practice to help growers in the UK develop safety plans. It takes account of FSA-funded research on the presence of pathogens in UK farm manures and their decline during storage, following application to land and direct defecation by animals on land. It complements established guidance from agriculture departments on Good Agricultural Practices.
This guidance does not prescribe specific mandatory requirements and following the guidance is on a voluntary basis. The Agency is aware that many UK growers already manage farm manures in a way that is consistent with this guidance and some operate to commercial specifications that exceed the advice provided.
The final Regulatory Impact Assessment, which can be found at the link below, takes into account the responses received following public consultation. The assessment considers the costs and benefits associated with publication of the guidance, compared to the base case of doing nothing. It concludes that the benefits to public health significantly outweigh the associated costs in following the advice in the guidance.
English and Welsh language versions of the guidance can be found at the links below.