Subsequent to DAFF’s notification of Prokon being assigned to conduct quality inspections on the local market, the fruit industries, while not opposed to inspections in principle, objected, on the basis of lack of consultation, and the scale and costs of inspection, as well as numerous other issues. DAFF then set up a work group of the fruit industries, which met on 27 June, to discuss the implications of inspections, and to look at establishing audit systems for packhouses, rather than implementing packhouse inspections on a regular basis. Amongst others, the fruit industries were requested to supply information on:
- Grading equipment / number of packers in the pack house (packing standards)
(a) Ratio of products to graders / packers
(b) Training / competency of graders / packers
(c) Electronic grading equipment
(d) Packing standards applied in the packhouse
- Volumes and type of fruits (risk profile)
- Existing food safety audit systems (GLOBAL GAP, SIZA, BRC)
- Storage facilities (coldrooms)
- Record keeping system
- Transport systems
At some stage, DAFF will require packhouses to submit such information.
In light of a court case that has been brought against the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries by the tomatoes, onions and importers’ associations, DAFF decided to postpone further meetings of the working group until such time that the court case is settled. The implication of this is that Prokon will continue local market inspections on the basis of DAFF’s originally proposed model of full consignment inspections at 1,8 c / kg. The cost of retailer distribution centre and retailer inspections will be carried by the retailers.