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Opinions on Fresh Produce Food Safety and Quality Standards by Fresh Produce Supply Chain Experts from the Global South and North

Jacxsens, Liesbeth, Boxstael, Sigrid van, Nanyunja, Jessica, Jordaan, Danie, Luning, Pieternel, Uyttendaele, Mieke
Journal of food protection 2015 v.78 no.10 pp. 1914-1924
Codex Alimentarius, European Union, attitudes and opinions, catalysts, certification, control methods, cooperatives, experts, food quality, food safety, fresh produce, income, management systems, markets, supply chain, surveys, trade associations
This study describes the results of an on-line survey of fresh produce supply chain experts who work with producers from the Global North (n = 41, 20 countries) and the Global South (n = 63, 29 countries). They expressed their opinion using 1 to 5 Likert scales on several items related to four types of food safety and quality standards and legislation: Codex Alimentarius standards, European Union legislation, national legislation, and private standards. The results reflect the different circumstances under which the Southern and Northern producers operate in relation to the local organization, regulation, and support of the sector; but they also indicate similar challenges, in particular, the challenge of private standards, which were perceived to demand a higher implementation effort than the other three types of standards. Private standards were also strongly perceived to exclude Southern and Northern small- and medium-scale producers from high-value markets, whereas European Union legislation was perceived to strongly exclude, in particular, small- and medium-scale Southern producers. The results further highlight concerns about costly control measures and third-party certification that are required by downstream buyers but that are mostly paid for by upstream suppliers. Food standards are seen in their dual role as a catalyst for implementation of structured food safety management systems on the one hand and as a nontariff barrier to trade on the other hand. The results of the survey also pointed up the advantages of enforcing food safety and food quality standards in terms of knowledge spillover to noncertified activities, increased revenues, and improved food safety of delivered produce. Survey results highlight the importance of technical assistance and support of producers by governments and producer cooperatives or trade associations in the implementation and certification of food standards, along with increased awareness of and training of individuals in food protection practices to ensure food safety.