Introduction to the thematic
The Plant Health thematic covers two different but equally important aspects:- Conformity of plant products with standards that guarantee food safety. These standards mainly concern pesticide residues (compliance with maximum residue levels, MRLs) and certain environmental contaminants (heavy metals and mycotoxins).
- Ensuring the absence of regulated pests (including "quarantine pests”) – insects, nematodes, viruses, fungi or bacteria – which are not naturally present in a given region but which may be introduced unintentionally via international transport.
To ensure food safety and security, States must develop a preservation and protection policy - called "phytosanitary policy" - that encompasses all the elements of a concerted strategy – hazard identification; assessment of sanitary and phytosanitary risks in the country of introduction; communication of these risks between stakeholders; inspection of food producers and facilities; traceability of product batches; border surveillance; development of value chain control programmes with planning and sampling, detection and monitoring; and control of food safety risks; and identification of contaminants and pests by a competent laboratory.
To address all these very different aspects, this Plant Health course is structured as five routes. Each route has two levels. The intermediate level allows you to tackle the subject and to understand the main principles, without going into all the details of implementation. Successful completion of a test will give you access to the advanced level, where you can progress in understanding the subject and address the more practical aspects of implementation (details of the steps to follow, planning of operations, procedures to implement, reporting of results, etc.).
All five routes combined will enable you to achieve a very broad level of knowledge about Plant Health; however, each route can be studied as a stand-alone resource.