Project

Veg-i-Trade - Impact of Climate Change on Microbial Safety of Fresh Produce

Veg-i-Trade provides platforms to identify impacts of anticipated climate change and globalisation on food safety, microbiological and chemical hazards, of fresh produce and derived food products. Control measures of managerial and technological nature will be developed in the supply chain of crop production, post-harvest processing and logistics to minimize food safety risks.

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The likelihood of fresh produce (vegetables and fruits) contamination and the associated pathogen concentrations have strong relations with climatic conditions. Particularly temperature increase and precipitation pattern changes have a close relationship with bacteria growth and survival.

Veg-i-Trade project seeks to assess the impact of anticipated climate change and globalisation on the safety issues concerning fresh produce and derived food products.

Method

A conceptual framework has been made with contamination sources (manure, soil, surface water, sewage and wild life), pathways, impacts of climate change on bacteria survival and growth, and effects of climate change on seasonality in food borne pathogens prevalence. This conceptual framework is a first step towards quantification of climate change impacts on the pre-harvest microbial safety of fresh produce using climate scenario analysis. A quantification model will be developed based on available statistical and process-based models and climate scenarios.

Veg-i-Trade encompasses support for the development of control measures of a managerial and technological nature in the supply chain of crop production, post-harvest processing and logistics to minimize food safety risks. The assessment of the performance of horticultural safety management systems by a novel diagnostic instrument will lead to recommendations on European and global levels regarding quality assurance and the setting of science-based performance objectives. 

Objectives

The specific objectives of Veg-i-Trade are :

  • Mapping of the economical structure and organisation of the fresh produce supply chain at European and global levels and the identification of new trends in European consumption patterns.
  • Development and validation of diagnostic instruments as a tool for the systematic assessment of the performance of Horticulture Safety Management Systems in the fresh produce chain.
  • Formulation of adaptation scenarios of ‘Horticulture Safety Management Systems’ to anticipate globalisation and climate change, leading to the description of Quality Assurance (QA) recommendations on EU and global levels.
  •  Study of the pre- and post-harvest conditions, including agronomical cultural practices and further processing techniques, packaging and storage conditions, on plant physiology and microbial ecology of fresh produce.
  • Modeling of water treatment technology with respect to the adequacy of the microbiological quality of water used in the fresh produce supply chain and evaluation of production of chemical by-products. 
  • Elaboration of useful recommendations regarding the application of good practices in the fresh produce supply chain to improve the adequacy and operation of control measures to prevent and/or reduce microbiological and chemical hazards.
  • Development of risk-based sampling plans, risk ranking and definition of risk-based metrics by microbiological and chemical risk assessments of fresh produce and derived food products, consumed in Europe, taking into consideration effects of packaging, logistics and globalization.
  • Exploration of new and emerging food contamination pathways for microbiological and chemical hazards by baseline surveys, simulation and modeling of the logistic chain and risk assessments.
  • Elucidation of trends affecting the health risks in the fresh produce supply chain related to changes in crop productivity patterns due to plausible future climate scenarios for major European regions and the world as a whole.
  • Risk communication in order to respect the principle of food sovereignty in the setting of risk management strategies.
  • Strengthening international collaboration by scientific cooperation, exchange of information and capacity building between trade partners in fresh produce in a global food market.

More information

For more information please visit the Veg-i-Trade website.