Safe and save water part 2 - The case on Listeria

Due to climate change and subsequent water scarcity, it is important to efficiently use available freshwater. In the Netherlands, wash water from vegetable processing is often only used once, after which it is disposed of. The main reason is that this water may contain pathogens that may lead to recontamination of the product when the water is reused.

This research project focuses on developing new possibilities to (re)use fresh water in vegetable processing more efficiently and the possible effects and solutions concerning food safety. Treating the water with disinfection technologies aims to reduce the number of pathogens, allowing one to reuse the water and results in a lower probability of recontamination of subsequent product batches. The project investigates the elimination of Listeria monocytogenes in water that is used to wash vegetables. The focus is on disinfecting the water used during washing raw vegetables.

The development of disinfection technologies applicable for the Dutch market, where the use of chemical agents is currently limited, helps vegetable processors to make their companies more sustainable for water and energy use and increase their international competitive position in which the use of chemical disinfection technologies is standard practice.

The goal of the project is to investigate and develop possibilities for reducing freshwater consumption during processing to contribute to a more sustainable fresh food supply chain and ensure that safe products are brought to the market. This aligns directly with the goal of the Multi-year Mission-Driven Innovation Programs (MMIPs) to build knowledge development during food processing to increase sustainability in the chain with innovation focusing on i.a. water reduction without losing safety.