PARKnSHOP proves to be pioneer in food safety again by innovating a vegetable monitoring system called "Farm Check".
The "Farm Check" system includes barcode recording for traceability, technological backup and consultancy for farmers in Mainland China. "Farm Check" also focuses on seeding, farm management, on-farm training, pesticide usage, source-to-store tracing and laboratory testing.
Only farms which meet the stringent "Farm Check" standards can supply vegetables to PARKnSHOP. This ensures you get the healthiest, safest and freshest vegetables for your family.
In order to guarantee our Hong Kong customers the freshest, best quality vegetables at the lowest price, PARKnSHOP vegetable buyers are continually searching all over Mainland China to find the best managed farms with the best quality vegetables grown in different regions.
Currently 70 farms have met PARKnSHOP's exacting quality standards, while 50 more continue to take part in our rigorous authorization process. Our farms are found in every corner of Mainland China, like GuangDong, HaiNan, GuangXi, YunNan, FuJian, JiangXi, ShangHai, ShanDong, QingHai, DongBei, Beijing, HeBei, HuNan, SzeChwan, and as far as inland as Inner Mongolia and XinJiang.
By choosing farms in various areas, the effect of inclement weather or other changing conditions can be minimized, so PARKnSHOP can ensure a constant supply of vegetables for our customers.
All selected farms must:
- Have all the necessary licenses & permits issued by the Mainland Authorities to export different types of vegetables to Hong Kong.
- Be able to supply the required quantities of vegetables.
- Possess a good transportation network (especially from remote areas) to guarantee that all vegetables are delivered with the highest and freshest quality, thereby meeting PARKnSHOP's exacting standards.
Each farm is thoroughly assessed by one of the PARKnSHOP's experienced Agricultural Scientists to ensure it meets PARKnSHOP's stringent "Farm Check" standards:
1. The environment of every farm must:
Have low pollution risk*
Pass the environmental heavy metals test
2. Farm management must be responsible and experienced,
Superior farming knowledge
Good staff management
Willingness to embrace new farming ideas
3. Farms must have the required facilities for various farming practices in regard to pre and post harvest vegetable
Covered storage areas
Chiller rooms, if applicable
Lockable pesticide storage rooms
Facilities for "Farm Check" documentation system, like records of planting and harvesting
4. Farms must:
Meet required size
Have transportation capabilities
Have suitable soil and agricultural conditions to ensure the production of the highest quality vegetables
If farms meet all the above standards under our "Farm Check" system, our Agricultural Scientists will start the on-farm training program.
*Like many other places in the world, Mainland China has some constraints regarding environmental (e.g. soil & irrigation water) pesticide residues that PARKnSHOP work hard to mitigate by inspecting the farm to check for pollution sources & heavy metal testing of irrigation water. The International Food Standard (Codex) recognizes this issue and publishes a standard for such residues known as EMRLs (Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits)
PARKnSHOP's Agricultural Scientists train the farmers on-site in all "Farm Check" areas.
Training includes all aspects of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) with particular emphasis on the control, recording and use of pesticides:
1. Pest and Disease Management:
- To minimize risks and reduce the need for pesticides and other agricultural chemicals
2. Strict procedures including:
- Selection, authorization and use of pesticides
- In addition, PARKnSHOP approves and checks:
a) All new pesticides before being used on the farm
b) Legal and safety status of all pesticides against both Mainland
China and Hong Kong regulations and the International Codex
Other specific training on farming practices is also provided and includes:
- Construction of a field map:
a) Numbering the fields by giving a code to each field
b) Establishing a documentation system to record the life history
of each field including seeds used, planting dates, fertilizer and
pesticide applications, pest and disease incidents and harvest
- Crop rotation
- Farm husbandry
- Withdrawal period (time taken between the application of pesticides and harvesting to minimize any pesticide residue)
After training, the farm is asked to implement the "Farm Check" system. During the trial period vegetable samples are tested
intensively by PARKnSHOP's Food Safety Laboratory in Hong Kong.
Every selected farm is visited a second time by a PARKnSHOP Agricultural Scientist where a thorough audit assessment is
- How the "Farm Check" has been implemented
- How well records have been kept
- How well procedures are being followed
The following laboratory results are also considered:
- Pesticide testing results from PARKnSHOP's Food Safety Laboratory in Hong Kong
- Environmental tests for heavy metals
If farms pass the audit assessment and all the laboratory results are satisfactory, they are awarded full "Farm Check" status and are permitted to supply PARKnSHOP with vegetables.
Once a farm is awarded full "Farm Check" status, PARKnSHOP Food Safety Laboratory in Hong Kong tests a designated amount of samples from each type of vegetable each day. The farm is also routinely audited to ensure the "Farm Check" standards are being maintained at all times. In the event of a problem, a PARKnSHOP Agricultural Scientist will investigate the farm and take whatever action is required. This could include the removal of "Farm Check" status from the farm and immediate suspension of its supply of vegetables to PARKnSHOP.
Delivering to PARKnSHOP's Specialized Vegetable Distribution Centre, PARKnSHOP has invested in a highly Specialized Vegetable Distribution Centre in Kwai Chung featuring:
- A number of "Fresh Quality Zones" operating at different temperatures to meet the optimum storage needs of each product so as to maintain the best quality.
- A fleet of dedicated temperature controlled distribution trucks, which deliver the vegetables to every PARKnSHOP store early in the morning.
At PARKnSHOP each basket of Mainland-origin vegetables is labeled with a unique Vegetable Barcode ID Card, which details the name of the farm where the vegetables were grown, supplier name, vegetable name, production date and other details.
When the baskets are delivered to PARKnSHOP's Specialized Vegetable Distribution Centre, each Vegetable Barcode ID Card is scanned into PARKnSHOP's computer system, which also records the particular PARKnSHOP store each basket of vegetables will be delivered to that day.
PARKnSHOP can then trace every basket of vegetables from Mainland China delivered to any PARKnSHOP store on any day right back to the exact farm where the vegetables were grown, in a systematic and efficient way.
With full traceability and the Quality Control records required by the 'Farm Check' system, a total seed to store history of every vegetable in every detail can be obtained, including:
- The source of the seeds
- The time and the field of planting the seeds
- The time and reasons for any fertilizer and pesticide application
- The harvest date
PARKnSHOP has committed every effort in developing the Vegetable Barcode ID Card so as to provide full traceability, which in turn ensures accountability and responsibility of every supplier. This ongoing system enables PARKnSHOP to monitor and maintain the highest possible standards, as well as facilitates any improvements needed in the event of an unforeseen issue.
Only PARKnSHOP offers such rigorous and comprehensive system to ensure the highest quality vegetables from Mainland China.
PARKnSHOP's Food Safety Centre was established in 2000 and operates two specialized laboratories: a Microbiological and a Pesticide Laboratory.
As most vegetables arrive from Mainland China in the evening, the Pesticide Laboratory works mainly overnight conducting two sample analysis tests: a Rapid Screening Test and a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) Test.
Rapid Screening Test
About 230 Rapid Screening Tests are conducted each day to determine if certain types of pesticides are present at certain levels. Around 84,000 samples are tested every year.
This is a more detailed test involving:
- A vegetable extract being injected into the GCMS to separate all the components including any pesticide residues that may be present
- The GCMS then takes a 'fingerprint' of each component and scans the 'print' through a pesticide database to try to find a match
- If a pesticide is identified, a further GCMS test is conducted to determine the concentration
- The data is then compared with the International Codex standard and any Hong Kong regulations
If a pesticide is not permitted or appears at a higher concentration than allowed, we know that 'Farm Check' Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) has not been followed correctly in that farm. Its vegetable will not be sold in any PARKnSHOP stores. PARKnSHOP will then trace the source of the vegetable by the Vegetable Barcode ID Card Tracing System, suspend all further supplies from that farm, and a complete on-farm investigation will be conducted by our Agricultural Scientist.
"Farm Check" status of the farm may then be revoked meaning the farm can no longer supply any vegetables to PARKnSHOP, to ensure the safety of customers.
All PARKnSHOP fresh counter staff is thoroughly trained in proper fresh food handling methods. The staff must also pass a body check examination before they are medically qualified and appointed to handle fresh food. Finally, all trained and qualified staff is required to wear a name badge identifying them as a 'Qualified Fresh Food Handler'.
With these stringent conditions put upon our staff, we are better able to ensure that not only do you get the safest, healthiest and freshest vegetables but also the most knowledgeable and courteous service
What can you do at home to enjoy the healthiest, safest and freshest vegetables with your family?
- Remove outer leaves or peel the vegetables
- Wash your vegetables thoroughly in clean running water several times then soak them in water for one hour, or blanch them in boiling water for one minute and discard the water used for blanching
- Cook thoroughly before consumption
- Finally, enjoy greater health by eating a variety of vegetables
PARKnSHOP offers the most thorough and rigorous system for food safety in Hong Kong, with our proprietary "Farm Check" system that includes our Vegetable Barcode ID Card Tracing System for all the Mainland-origin vegetables. Therefore we are able to ensure you get the highest quality vegetables in Hong Kong.
Come visit PARKnSHOP for total traceability and total peace of mind.