Food safety for the Australian mushroom industry (MU16005)
Status: New project
Key research provider: Fresh Produce Safety Centre
What’s it all about? This investment is tasked with investigating food safety risks within mushroom production systems. It is…
- Bringing together existing research and information on food safety in Australia’s mushroom industry, and on foodborne pathogens including listeria species, salmonella species and E. coli
- Conducting surveys on mushroom farms to look at pathogen loads in compost, on casing and on fresh mushrooms over a 12-month period
- Using a lab-based trial to investigate the potential for change in microbial loads over time for a range of processing and food chain scenarios.
The project’s information will ultimately feed into industry training and information resources.
What’s the latest update? With the project still in its initial stages, the team report that the following activities have been undertaken…
- A sampling plan with a rigorous protocol for extracting compost samples has been drafted and is set to receive feedback before being implemented
- Significant new information gleaned from research and experience has been added to the collection of information on food safety in the industry
- The process of collecting existing mushroom testing data from a range of sources has commenced
- Sampling site selection is well advanced, with sampling most likely to commence in January 2018.
Marsh Lawson Mushroom Research Centre (MU16004)
Status: Ongoing project
Key research providers: The University of Sydney and Applied Horticultural Research
What’s it all about? Beginning in mid-2017, this project will support the running of the Marsh Lawson Mushroom Research Centre (MLMRC) at the University of Sydney. The MLMRC is a world-class facility dedicated to mushrooms, and the research that takes place there will help the mushroom industry drive innovation, adopt best practice and tackle issues, while encouraging new expertise in the industry. During the project, the facility will grow in size and capability, with the addition of new growing rooms and a purpose-built compost research facility.
What’s the latest update? A steering committee for the centre and its work was appointed in early December. The committee will meet for the first time in early 2018 to develop the strategy for the centre and investment opportunities for the research to be conducted there, for consideration by the mushroom Strategic Investment Advisory Panel. Look for updates in future editions of Hortlink and through the industry’s levy-funded communications program, described further along in this snapshot.
Food safety and QA risk management (MU16000)
Status: Ongoing project
Key research provider: Scheme Support Services
What’s it all about? Contracted by Hort Innovation in early 2017, this project is building on the foundations of the industry’s existing Food Safety and Quality Assurance Risk Management Service (FSQARMS) program, to provide an effective risk management mechanism at both an individual business and broader industry level.
The FSQARMS program continues to monitor food safety and QA issues in relation to mushrooms domestically and overseas, provides update reports in appropriate industry communication channels, runs an independent verification testing program through accredited laboratories and more.
If you missed it, get the rundown on the project in the article Project builds on previous food safety and QA developments on p28 of the Autumn 2017 edition of Australian Mushrooms Journal.
Mushroom industry minor use program (MU16002)
Status: Ongoing project
Key research provider: Hort Innovation
What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the mushroom industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at portal.apvma.gov.au/permits. Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up to our membership program for free here.
Communication program for the Australian mushroom industry 2016-2019 (MU15001)
Status: Ongoing project
Key research provider: Team Rowley
What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project is delivering effective and timely communications to ensure Australian mushroom growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest mushroom R&D and marketing investments, developments and outcomes, and other industry news and information.
What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:
- The quarterly Australian Mushrooms Journal, delivered electronically
- The monthly Industry Update e-newsletter
- Industry website www.australianmushrooms.com.au (grower log-in at the top right), which also houses AGORA, the industry’s pest and disease knowledge management and communication system
- YouTube videos on R&D investments.
If you’re involved in the mushroom industry and don’t currently receive the Australian Mushrooms Journal or Industry Update via email, contact Chris Rowley at email@example.com to be added to the distribution list. Likewise, if you have team members or know of any additional people that would benefit from a wider understanding of the issues affecting the industry, encourage them to be in touch.
Communication and education of mushroom nutrition research to health professionals – phase 2 (MU14000)
Status: Completed project
Key research provider: Nutrition Impact
What was it all about? Beginning in 2014 and now concluded, throughout its run this project collected research findings and information on the health and nutrition benefits of mushrooms and used this to regularly update a range of health professionals, including dietitians, doctors and nurses, as well as naturopaths, home economists and health media. Through this education and communication, these people were put in the best position to advocate for the inclusion of mushrooms in the diets of their patients, clients and audiences, as well as in wider public’s diet.
- Showcased mushroom health benefits and research at industry conferences and events attended by health audiences, as well as the journals and other publications of professional health bodies. National conferences included those of the Dietitians Association of Australia, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian Practice Nurses Association, CheckUP, Diabetes SA and Home Economics Institute of Australia. There was also involvement in events including the General Practice Conference and Exhibition, Dietitian Day, and the Australian College of Nursing’s Community and Primary Health Care Nursing Week.
- Utilised the ‘health and nutrition’ section of www.australianmushrooms.com.au, where resources such as fact sheets were kept up to date with peer-reviewed research. The project also produced video resources hosted here.
- Produced an e-newsletter, Talking Research, which was sent at regular intervals to a database of more than 1300 subscribers and highlighted the most recent health-oriented mushroom research.
- Produced resources including a succinct brochure on the benefits of mushrooms for health professionals, which was distributed in printed and digital form and made available for health associations to distribute to their members and contacts. There was also a handout on healthy bones – focusing on mushrooms as a vitamin D source – for use by health professionals, and a handout on mushrooms and weight control for the general public that was designed as part of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week activity.
- Facilitated farm tours, cooking demonstrations and food styling sessions for dietitians, nutrition students, food media, bloggers and academics, to educate and in turn assist them in educating the public.
- Supplied resources for use by health authorities, including technical papers.
Throughout the project, the team responded to requests for help from dietitians, bloggers, journalists and researchers regarding the role of mushrooms in health as needed, providing information and content for their channels. There was also support for Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, an initiative of the Dietitian’s Association of Australia that each year involved events throughout the country. Health professionals were provided with social media updates to share regarding the health benefits of mushrooms, and mushrooms featured in Healthy Weight Week cookbooks. Likewise, there was support for Nutrition Australia’s National Nutrition Week.
The project also fed into the Mushrooms and Health Global Initiative, an international collaboration that produced a quarterly bulletin to alert growers, mushroom associations, health professionals and researchers about newly published research and health-focused promotional activities. The last bulletin was produced in 2016.
Full details can be found in the project’s final report, which will soon be available to order through Hort Innovation’s final report order form. Final reports are free to Australian horticulture levy payers, registered Hort Innovation members and industry representative bodies. Not registered with Hort Innovation? Become a member now.
At the time of writing, Hort Innovation was progressing discussions with the mushroom SIAP around potential new work in this health education space.
Other R&D projects of note…
- Mushroom crisis management review (MU16001), which has been tasked with identifying potential risks and threats to the Australian mushroom industry, updating the mushroom industry’s crisis management plan, and providing effective training to industry personnel involved in crisis management.