Post harvest treatment of agricultural produce
Quite a few agricultural commodities are treated with agricultural chemicals after they are harvested.
This practice is known as 'post-harvest chemical treatment'.
The objective of post-harvest chemical treatments is to address pest and disease problems that may arise during the transport and storage of a commodity.
Examples of pest problems include weevils and other insects infesting cereal grains during storage, fungal pathogens such as botrytis infecting table grapes and superficial scald infecting pome fruit.
Agricultural produce destined for interstate transport may be treated with agricultural chemicals to meet quarantine requirements.
Growers must be aware of the chain of custody through which their produce passes, and of any potential chemicals used by others in the chain.
The owner of the produce is responsible for ensuring it meets food standards and may be held accountable for any unacceptable chemical residues detected in produce.
For growers involved in quality assurance systems, the potential unauthorised treatment of their produce must be regarded as a significant critical control point and processes must be put in place to negate this risk.
Permission to treat produce
People who transport or handle agricultural produce (e.g. treatment of grains during transport, dipping of fruit and vegetables in packing sheds) cannot treat produce they do not own with agricultural chemicals without written permission from the owners of the produce.
This ensures that unacceptable chemical residues do not occur in produce treated by people who do not own the produce, either during processing or in transit.
Additionally, this protects the owner who could otherwise suffer a loss through the actions of another person.
There is no special form required to obtain permission to treat produce, which provides flexibility to agricultural produce owners, packers and transporters.
The owner can give permission for a single treatment using one chemical, or for a range of treatments over a longer time.
Below is one example of a form that may be used to record permission to treat agricultural produce with an agricultural chemical.
Note the person undertaking the agricultural chemical treatment should retain the permission form as a reference and provide a copy to the produce owner upon request.