Berry pickers must follow good hand hygiene rules. Instructions for handwashing have been drawn up for people who pick berries for sale, and commercial berry pickers use hand sanitiser or disinfectant wipes to keep their hands clean. When picking berries for sale, the berries should be handled with the same hygienic precision as is required for other foodstuffs. The berries are delivered for sale on the same day after picking, whenever possible. They should not be moved unnecessarily from one container to the other, and should be protected from foreign smells and similar during transportation. If the berry picker does not have time to take the berries to the purchase point on the same day, the berries should be kept cool overnight so that their quality does not deteriorate before transportation to the purchase point.
If the berries are picked for your own use, they should be cleaned immediately at home, then placed into containers and frozen on the day they were picked. Bilberry jam and juice should also be made from fresh, high-quality berries.
In Finland, quality control instructions for picking forest berries, first purchasing and quality classification of berries have been drawn up in cooperation between the Arctic Flavours Association, companies which purchase wild berries, the foodstuffs industry and the authorities. The instructions concern berry picking technique (identifying the type of berry, its degree of ripeness, cleanliness), transportation (protection) and storage (temperature, timeframe), and ensuring origin and traceability.
The quality control rules for berry pickers are available in several different languages. The instructions concern both regular and organic picking of wild berries. Traceability forms and an instruction template for self-supervision have been drawn up for first purchasers in cooperation with foodstuffs supervisory authorities. On the traceability form, the picker states the municipality in which the berry was picked, commits to following instructions and signs the form. The batch code allows traceability throughout the entire market chain, from the first purchaser to the seller of the consumer product.
Instructions concerning berry quality classification have also been drawn up for first purchasers of berries. These have been drawn up for both ready-cleaned berries to be purchased for sale at markets and food stores and for uncleaned berries purchased by industry. In this way, first purchasers monitor the berries’ quality, and no batches that are spoiled or otherwise unfit for consumption are accepted.
The quality classification standard has also been translated into English
An instruction template for self-supervision has also been drawn up for companies which process berries, and they are provided with information about foodstuffs-related legislation and any applicable changes. In this way, customers can rely on the origin, cleanliness and quality of the Arctic bilberry regardless of where in the world the product is sold to the consumer.