Retailers are increasingly demanding that suppliers pass food safety audits. But, with the presence of un-treated animal waste in the system, aquaponics finds itself failing all current US audits.
Aquaponics needs to take food safety were seriously, warned Dr Taber. As a new industry, it does not have the reservoir of public acceptance that other farming methods have and so producers must be careful not to paint a bad image which could impact upon the entire aquaponics industry.
Ds Taber, highlighted some bacteria which could be a possible risk. Most notable, Yersinia Enterocolitica, which can live in fish and cause diahorrea and joint swelling in humans.
In order to protect against the risk of pathogens, good general food safety practice must be implemented.
Some of the basic measures are:
- cleaning rafts after use
- excluding animals and insects
- effective solids removal
- UV or O3 sanitation after solids removed
- use clean and safely stored feed
- worker training and retention
Above all, producers must familiarize themselves with food safety audits so that a system can be designed and built to accommodate for it. "Design for hygiene," Dr Taber stated.
"Food safety in fresh produce is challenging, but, with the appropriate design, it is doable," she concluded.