EFSA assesses the risk of Salmonella and Norovirus in leafy greens

Rainfall, use of contaminated water for irrigation or contaminated equipment are among the factors that cause contamination of leafy greens with Salmonella and Norovirus. These are some of the findings of EFSA’s latest opinion on risk factors that contribute to the contamination of leafy greens at different stages of the food chain. The BIOHAZ Panel has recommended that producers use good agricultural, hygiene and manufacturing practices to reduce contamination. The Panel has also proposed specific microbiological criteria at primary production.

Veg-i-Trade participates to openAIRE supporting dissemination of research

Open Aire is an Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe. The Veg-i-Trade researchers from Ghent University decided to collect their Veg-i-Trade publications in the OpenAIRE compliant repository Biblio. This is a good example of how OpenAIRE can support projects to make research output available in Open Access and accessible to a wider audience.

Veg-i-Trade disseminates its results to stakeholders!

Through interviews, publications and presentations Veg-i-Trade informs about its approach and the results achieved so far. Recently, some Veg-i-Trade interviews have contributed to the debate on food safety of fresh produce on various websites. A publication in New Food talks about fresh produce border rejections. Furthermore, the opportunities Veg-i-Trade identified for further improvement of the Codes of Good Practice will be shared with the fresh produce industry at a "Global Gap" event and presented to the scientific community at the 1st BacFooDNet conference in November 2013.

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Inagro organized theme day on Water in Agriculture and Horticulture

Inagro organised its annual theme day covering various uses and treatments of water in agriculture and horticulture. Different aspects were shown such as the possibilities of reuse of water, water treatment and the use of the watertool. The water tool is an on-line application that can be used by farmers to assist them in the choice of water treatment depending on the initial quality of the water and the type of application.

Furthermore demonstrations of water irrigation and drainage techniques were given. Also demonstrations in the laboratory were organized. The interest of the visitors in the activities of the Inagro laboratory and in particular how analyses on water and also soil are performed was high. Demonstrations of the different steps of microbiological analysis of water were shown such as filtration of large amounts of water to concentrate the pathogenic bacteria, incubation; isolation of the bacteria and confirmation. Visitors were impressed by the huge labor intensity these types of analyses require. The take home message was clear : ‘reliable microbiological results with these techniques cannot not be expected before 24 hours after receipt of the water sample !’
Despite the large rainfall the day before the theme day, demonstration of water irrigation devices was useful to the visitors, mainly farmers.

A Veg-i-Trade member goes to the Belgian edition of the Risk & Crisis Management Masterclass in Fall 2013.

Thanks to her work carried out within the Veg-i-Trade Project, Ghent University researcher Melanie De Vocht is awarded with the student wildcard for the Belgian edition of the Risk & Crisis Management Masterclass in Fall 2013 organized by PM, Inconnect and CIP Institute.

This extensive 3 ½ day programme, worked out in cooperation with several international academic partners, will cover the latest developments with respect to risk, crisis and change management/communication. A large number of cases, practical applications and methods will be discussed in detail.

Night of researchers - Science in Motion for Friday Night Commotion


Ghent University along with University of Belgrade took part to an important promotion event presenting running FP7 projects in Serbia. This event has been organized within Science in Motion for Friday Night Commotion – SCIMFONICOM FP7-PEOPLE-2012-Night, 609724.
With posters, flyers and sort of food safety demonstration the Veg-i-Trade and Aquavalens project were presented to the general public and the attending media.

SAM_2384 SAM_2375

VTEC strains: EFSA looks at public health risks

EFSA’s scientific experts say that it is currently not possible to identify which VTEC bacteria strains have the potential to cause human diseases. In order to help risk managers to identify human health risks, EFSA has proposed a scheme to categorise VTEC strains according to their potential to cause disease. This work has been carried out in response to a request of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health.

EFSA BIOHAZ panel published Opinion on the risk posed by pathogens in fresh produce

In January 2013 a Scientific Opinion of the BIOHAZ Panel was published on the risk posed by pathogens in food of non-animal origin. The opinion is a first part describing outbreak data analysis and risk ranking of food/pathogen combinations. Also Veg-i-Trade experts took part as ad hoc members of this EFSA WG in preparing this opinion. Further follow-up EFSA BIOHAZ opinions focusing in more detail on the risk posed by some selected food pathogen combinations established in part 1 are expected to be published in the future.

A web news story has also been published related to this opinion and is available online via the following link

Information on (food) risk and crisis communication of WHO

This report has been written after the experience of an internship on risk communication at the World Health Organization (WHO), in the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses (FOS) in the headquarter in Geneva, Switzerland. The main goal of this document is to provide an overview of the amount of valuable and interesting information on (risk) communication with regard to safe food and outbreaks, which is freely accessible on the WHO website.

PRIMAFLOR talks on benefits of Veg-i-Trade research for fresh produce industry at GLOBALGAP SUMMIT, Madrid, 6-8 November 2012

PRIMAFLOR located in Spain is an industrial partner within Veg-i-Trade with over 30 years history in growing, producing, marketing and distributing ready-to-eat horticultural products. Antonio Marhuenda from Primaflor presented his views on his engagement in Veg-i-Trade in close collaboration with research partner CSIC to increase safety and quality of fresh produce. He also discussed on his experience and perceived benefits for industrial partners such as PRIMAFLOR in implementing Veg-i-Trade tools on assessing food safety performance and sampling in the horticular sector.

Veg-i-Trade in the news

Veg-i-Trade sent out a press release on the waste of fruits and vegetable in Europe on the 3rd of October (click here to see the press release). The press release has been broadly picked up by the media. In Belgium prof. Peter Ragaert and prof. Mieke Uyttendaele gave a lot of interviews on the radio, to newspapers, magazines and on the television news,… Some examples can be found below.

Veg-i-Trade stuurde op 3 oktober een persbericht de wereld in, over de verspilling van groenten en fruit in Europa (Klik hier om het persbericht te lezen). Het bericht werd door verschillende media opgepikt. In België gaven prof. Peter Ragaert en prof. Mieke Uyttendaele vele interviews op de radio, voor kranten, magazines en voor het nieuws op televisie. Enkele voorbeelden vindt u hieronder.

Headline in the news of National Belgian Television RTBF (French)

Topic in the news of VTM (Flemish broadcasting company) (Dutch)

Article on Forbes

Article on Science daily

Article on Food Products design

Article (in dutch) on De Morgen

Article (in dutch) on De Standaard

Article (in dutch) on Het Laatste Nieuws

Article (in dutch) on Het Nieuwsblad

Article (in dutch) on EOS

Article (in dutch) on Knack

Veg-i-Trade Food Safety Management workshops toured in Europe in February & March 2012

Veg-i-Trade Workshops have been organised in Spain (Murcia, February 17th), In Norway (Oslo, February 27 – March 2), in Belgium (Lokeren, March 8th), in the Netherlands (Wageningen, March 16th) and in Serbia (Belgrade, March 27th) to connect and network with farmers, processors, traders in the supply chain in Europe to collect data in the framework of Work package 2 and 3 of Veg-i-Trade on mapping state-of-the art on Food Safety Management Systems in the fresh produce supply chain. In due time follow-up workshops will be organized.

Veg-i-Trade partner Ghent University visits Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India (19th to 25th January 2012)

In the week of January 19th to 25th 2012, both Prof. Mieke Uyttendaele (UGent) and dr. Liesbeth Jacxsens (UGent), visited the Indian partner within Veg-i-Trade, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), and met many of the stakeholders in fresh produce in the Tamil Nadu region (e.g., farmers, food processors, horticultural managers, exporters of fresh produce). UGent and TNAU jointly offered an international workshop on ‘Food Safety Management system for Fruits & Vegetables’.

EFSA annual report

EFSA released its annual report on zoonoses, zoonotic agents & food borne outbreaks in the EU. The report covers the year 2010, as such there's no direct mention on the EHEC crisis in Germany last year (May/July 2011).

However, there's notable increase of food-borne outbreaks linked to fruit and vegetables, increasing from 2,1% to 8,7% for vegetable products (fruit products show a slight decrease from 2,3 to 1,3%). There's no direct explanation for this fact, as there has been no clear development regarding non-compliant foodstuffs. The EU Commission's mandate to EFSA to investigate the risk of pathogens on foodstuffs of non-animal origin in the next 2 years should also be seen in this light.

Below is a fact sheet prepared by FreshFel summarising the main elements of the EFSA report.

Freshfel publishes its ‘consumption monitor’

Freshfel Europe has released the latest edition of its ‘Freshfel Consumption Monitor’, analysing trends in the production, trade and supply of fresh fruits and vegetables across the EU-27. This source of information on fresh fruit and vegetable trends shows that after a sharp decrease in 2009, the per capita fresh fruit consumption within the EU-27 declined in 2010 again by 7.8%, which means a decrease of 9.4% in comparison to the average consumption of the previous five years. Fresh vegetable consumption declined also by 7.4% compared to 2009, remaining clearly below the average of the last five years by 10.3%.

5 Dec 2011: Food Standards Agency launched the vegetable washing campaign

The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland has launched the first stage of its campaign to remind people to wash raw vegetables in order to minimize the risk of food poisoning. The focus of the campaign is to reinforce existing food safety advices about storage, handling and cooking of food, including raw vegetables. The messages of the campaign include several safety measures that also Veg-i-Trade communicates to its stakeholders, in particular consumers. Veg-i-Trade underlines the importance of these campaigns as a tool to increase food safety and consumer health.

The first Veg-i-Trade results are published!

The first Veg-i-Trade periodic report has been submitted to the European Commission. During the first 16 months of activity (1st May 2010- 31st August 2011), Veg-i-Trade research has stimulated interest among a wide range of persons and stakeholder organisations. Some of the most significant results obtained so far are described in the Publishable Summary of the Veg-i-Trade report.

Varna, Bulgaria, 27-29 Sep 2011: discussions on “sustainability in the fresh produce supply chains”

The 3rd MONIQA International Conference took place in Varna, Bulgaria, from 27-29 September 2011and brought together more than 150 participants from around the globe to discuss food safety issues and their impact on the consumer.In the session dedicated to Food Safety, Food Security and Climate, Mieke Uyttendaele (coordinator of Veg-i-Trade) presented on the “Impact of global food market and climate change on food sovereignty”.

Warsaw, Poland 8-9 Sep 2011: Veg-i-Trade launched discussions on “sustainability in the fresh produce supply chains”

The Conference„Food and nutrition in 21st century” took place in Warsaw, Poland and was attended by more than 450 participants from all over the Europe, representing the science communities, industry leaders, national and European S&T policy bodies and civil society.It was a flagship event organized within the framework of Polish Presidency of the EU Council, under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, and in close collaboration with the European Commission.
During the debate major challenges to food security and safety as well as to nutrition and well being of European citizens were identified and the measures which shall be undertaken to mitigate them were proposed. In the session dedicated to “sustainability in the food chain”, the coordinator of Veg-i-Trade, Mieke Uyttendaele, presented the feedback of discussions with the Veg-i-Trade consortium on the “Impact of global food market and climate change on food sovereignty” and provided some inputs on the way forward for science to contribute to sustainable innovation and the EU 2020 strategy on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Ghent, 16-17 November 2011: european training of the HSMS-DI tool

A training course on "Horticultural Safety Management System diagnostic instrument (HSMS-DI)" has been organized by by Wageningen University in collaboration with Ghent University.The course will take place in Ghent on November 16th and 17th 2011.

Ghent University, August 22nd to December 2nd 2011, ITP training

After a first successful edition in 2009, for the second time an International Training Program on Food Safety, Quality Assurance and Risk analysis takes place from August 22nd to December to 2nd 2011 at the Faculty of Bio-Science Engineering at Ghent University in Belgium. The ITP Food Safety aims at transferring knowledge and skills in food safety issues (both microbiological and chemical hazards as well as physical hazards) and related legislation, assurance of food safety throughout the supply chain from farm to fork by good agricultural practices, hygiene implementation and HACCP, and supporting management by elaboration of risk assessment making the link between hazard control and consumer risk using knowledge based modeling.

May 2011: Veg-i-Trade in South Africa

Prof. Mieke Uyttendaele (Veg-i-Trade coordinator and food microbiologist) and Prof. Bruno De Meulenaer (leader of WP 8 - micotoxin risk assessment - and food chemist) of Ghent University visited the Veg-i-Trade South-African partners: the University of Pretoria (UP) and the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) in Pretoria.

Ghent, 17 June, EHEC outbreak in Europe: Belgian consumers express their concern about the EHEC bacteria

The news coverage of the deadly EHEC bacteria outbreak in Europe came as a bombshell. Ghent University (Belgium) examined 6132 reactions of Belgian newspaper readers after reading the first news reports. As expected, people are scared and worried, but governmental trust decreases fear and leads to a higher intention to keep on eating fresh produce. Below are a few of the results from a research done by Melanie De Vocht, PhD student in Communications Sciences (UGent).

EHEC outbreak in Germany: Veg-­i-­Trade informs

Veg-i-Trade prepared a Fact Sheet with scientific background information on the EHEC outbreak in Germany.

Ghent, 28 January 2011, Veg-i-Trade Discussion forum “Dealing with food safety issues for fresh produce”

Following on the Veg-i-Trade consortium meeting, a discussion forum related to the safety of fresh produce was organized at the faculty of Bio-Science Engineering. Sixty-five stakeholders from the fresh produce chain participated and exchanged on opinions.

The Food Standards Agency has published a report on climate change

The Food Standards Agency has published a report looking at possible implications of climate change on food policy in the UK. The review, carried out by the University of East Anglia for the Food Standards Agency, examines the impact of climate change on areas including food safety and nutrition. The survey findings are based on interviews with experts and a review of existing research into climate change.
The review suggests food risks will be increasingly unpredictable as agricultural methods adapt to climate change and food is sourced from alternative producers. The incidence of foodborne infections may alter. However, it says mechanisms are in place to detect such changes and to respond to protect public health.

Veg-i-Trade in "International Innovation" issue of November 2010

Research MediaLtd publishes in its November issue of International Innovation the article “Fresh produce puts safety first”. The objectives, challenges and expectations of the Veg-i-Trade project are highlighted.