Food safety

Food safety is clearly both non-negotiable, and extremely complex. However, there are a large number of resources and websites which can provide useful guidance in terms of SAFE postharvest management for vegetables.

In 2015 the Fresh Produce  Safety Centre published the Guidelines for Fresh Produce Food Safety. This comprehensive document sets out issues to be considered at all parts of the supply chain, from preparing the growing site to vehicle maintenance and hygiene. The guide includes critical limits for human pathogens in water and withholding periods between application of products of animal origin to soil and harvest of the crop.

(Note - download is 4.2MB)



Also in 2015, the Fresh Produce Safety Centre published a research document on "Understanding the Gaps'. This report is the result of a review of what is known about some key food safety issues affecting Australian horticultural producers;

  1. Fresh produce microbial contamination levels
  2. Agricultural water
  3. Organic inputs and composting
  4. The storage environment and transport
  5. Interactions between sanitisers and fungicides

This is a useful summary of research on these topics.

(Note - download is 5.7MB)

The Center for Produce Safety in Davis, California, has a large number of research papers and reports available through its website for free download. There are a large number of extremely useful resources on this website, which is highly recommended for those interested in this extremely important area.

Asian vegetable names

Many leafy greens and other vegetables have been introduced to Australia from the local region. These products have different names in different languages, and different spellings even when the name is well accepted. For example, kang kong (Ipomoea aquatica) is also known as water spinach, swamp cabbage, hung choy, een choy, tung tsoi and rau muong. Likewise, buk choy may be spelled buc choi, baak choy, bok choy or any combination of these.

Asian vegetables are increasingly popular in Australia. However, without a standard name, it is difficult to promote these products, or even explain how to use them. This project aimed to standardise the names of some of the more common vegetables of Asian origin which are increasingly popular in Australian cuisine. 


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Postharvest training manuals

There are quite a number of postharvest training manuals available. They are often focussed on fruit more than vegetables, but still contain valuable information and background reading.


The original postharvest manual came from the USDA; The 1954 Handbook 66 on 'Commercial storage of fruits, vegetables, and florist and nursery stocks'. Many of the storage recommendations in this manual are still used today as this publication was the genesis of many others. Growing methods and varieties have changed, but this still represents some interesting reading. (Note download is 5.4MB)





UCDavis, the most prestigious and well known postharvest research facility in the world, has many publications on postharvest technology. These include a postharvest training manual, last edition 2003. Although primarily aimed at small scale producers in developing countries, the manual includes sections on controlled and modified atmosphere storage, processing and food safety. At 260 pages long, it is a major document with a lot of information.



The UC Davis postharvest technology website is a source of a huge amount of information on postharvest management of all horticultural crops. It includes Factsheets on a large range of vegetables, books and summaries of storage recommendations and a database of over 1,700 articles and presentations authored by University of California academics, USDA researchers and others.

Other websites with information on postharvest management of vegetables include the University of Florida, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the FAO, and the University of Massachusetts .