Due to the ongoing and shocking Australian strawberry tampering saga, the New Zealand produce industry is acting to reassure customers that their safety systems are robust with the announcement of a significant project.

New Zealand’s pan-produce organisation, United Fresh is leading a major project to review the country’s traceability systems in the produce sector. The project is currently underway and is set to continue for a further three years. The initiative is co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund and will involve working with the fresh produce industry to ensure effective traceability from paddock to plate.

“These risk mitigation strategies need to be reviewed regularly and cover all steps in the supply chain,” said Jerry Prendergast, United Fresh president. “The current tampering in Australia, whether copycat or worse, is a major concern and we support the efforts of all of the industry and authorities both here and in Australia in dealing with these issues.

“We want to re-iterate this is an Australian strawberry issue, there is no connection to New Zealand-grown strawberries,” he added.

With Foodstuffs and Countdown today announcing the recall of some Australian grown strawberries, the New Zealand grown equivalent can’t come soon enough. With the warmer weather, however, New Zealand strawberries are beginning to ripen with some already making their way into supermarkets.