an initiative of ACCORD

Hygiene in Agriculture

Hygiene in Agriculture – WHY?

Agricultural hygiene helps protect livestock and crops from pests and disease, including insects, parasites, pathogens and weeds.

Optimising the health of animals and crops increases productivity, minimises animal suffering, and ultimately protects human health by ensuring that foodstuffs are safe for consumption. A healthy farm environment also protects the health of agricultural workers.

Pathogens are ubiquitous in farm environments. However, additional pathogens and pests can be introduced to farm environments mainly via movement of vehicles, people and stock onto the property, or via the farm’s water supply. Insects and other pests also "invade" without assistance.

Cross-contamination of pathogens and pests can also occur within the farm environment via movement of vehicles, people and stock around the property, or via contact with contaminated equipment, machinery and structures.

Therefore agricultural hygiene aims to minimise the introduction of additional pathogens and pests, as well as the spread of pathogens and pests in farm environments. This helps protect the safety of foodstuffs further down the supply chain.

Hygiene in Agriculture – HOW?

The key to agricultural hygiene is effective risk management and constant improvement of the hygiene standards at each level of the agricultural process and as agricultural products move further along into the human food chain. Effective cleaning, disinfecting and pest control regimes are integral, as summarised below.

Minimising Cross Contamination Pests and Pathogens

Cleaning and disinfection with good quality, effective products is integral to maintaining a healthy farm environment. Some of the specialised products for farm environments include powerful degreasers for cleaning organic material from equipment, vehicles, machinery, and buildings; descalers to remove inorganic build-up on machinery and equipment; wetting agents, minimising water use to dislodge dried matter such as manure; hand washes, with or without antimicrobial properties; heavy-duty laundry detergents; and disinfectants, including water treatments.

Case study – The dairy industry

Hygiene in the dairy industry serves two purposes:

  • protecting the health of livestock – optimising herd productivity and minimising animal suffering
  • protecting the quality of the dairy product – protecting human health by eliminating all sources of faecal, bacterial, physical and chemical contamination

Animal Health
(Sources 1 and 2)

Also essential to agricultural hygiene is effective pest control, which includes chemical, biological, and physical methods to protect animals, crops and pasture from different types of pests. Examples of chemical pesticides are those used to protect livestock from parasites, such as lice, ticks, mites and worms; as well as insecticides, fungicides, molluscicides, rodenticides and herbicides which protect crops and pasture from insects, fungus, snails, rats and mice, and weeds, respectively.

All veterinary and pesticide products in Australia are subject to a registration process overseen by the Agricultural, Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Products must meet criteria in the areas of public health, food safety, occupational health & safety and environment, as well as criteria ensuring products are fit for their intended purpose. The usage of these products is regulated by each of the states and territories. Click here for the Australian Code of Good Manufacturing Practice for Veterinary Chemical Products.

Source 1: Woodger, J., “Biosecurity and Hygiene on the Dairy Farm” www.farmcaregb.com/downloads/08/Biosecurity_Dairy_Farm.pdf

Source 2: Food Standards Agency (England), “Milk Hygiene on the Dairy Farm. A practical Guide for Milk Producers”, 2006 www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/milk-hygiene-guide-for-milk-producers.pdf .uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/milk-hygiene-guide-for-milk-producers.pdf"


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Quality control (QC) ensures that a finished manufactured product adheres to a defined set of quality criteria; quality assurance (QA) ensures that the product meets specified requirements during the manufacturing process. The processed food and beverage industry is Australia's largest manufacturing industry with a turnover of more than $70 billion in 2005-06, and accounting for 18% of manufacturing employment.19 The most frequently consumed processed meat products in Australia come from pig meat.20
Farm water sources range from dams, bores, wells, rivers, town water, channels and recycled water, which all vary in water quality.
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