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Title

Irrigation water quality for leafy crops: A perspective of risks and potential solutions

AuthorsAllende, Ana ; Monaghan, James
KeywordsHydroponics
Irrigation water
Leafy vegetables
Water disinfection treatment
GAP
QAS
Food safety
Issue Date3-Jul-2015
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 12(7): 7457-7477 (2015)
AbstractThere is increasing evidence of the contribution of irrigation water in the contamination of produce leading to subsequent outbreaks of foodborne illness. This is a particular risk in the production of leafy vegetables that will be eaten raw without cooking. Retailers selling leafy vegetables are increasingly targeting zero-risk production systems and the associated requirements for irrigation water quality have become more stringent in regulations and quality assurance schemes (QAS) followed by growers. Growers can identify water sources that are contaminated with potential pathogens through a monitoring regime and only use water free of pathogens, but the low prevalence of pathogens makes the use of faecal indicators, particularly E. coli, a more practical approach. Where growers have to utilise water sources of moderate quality, they can reduce the risk of contamination of the edible portion of the crop (i.e., the leaves) by treating irrigation water before use through physical or chemical disinfection systems, or avoid contact between the leaves and irrigation water through the use of drip or furrow irrigation, or the use of hydroponic growing systems. This study gives an overview of the main problems in the production of leafy vegetables associated with irrigation water, including microbial risk and difficulties in water monitoring, compliance with evolving regulations and quality standards, and summarises the current alternatives available for growers to reduce microbial risks. © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph120707457
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/137295
DOI10.3390/ijerph120707457
Identifiersissn: 1660-4601
Appears in Collections:(CEBAS) Artículos
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