Overall objectiveThe overall objective of the work package is to study the influence of pre- and post-harvest factors on plant physiology, tissue structure, and microbial ecology. Also the susceptibility of the host plant to act as a vehicle for transmission of enteric bacteria will be studied.
The following pre-harvest factors will be evaluated in the Veg-i-Trade project: climatic conditions such as temperature, rain, wind and light intensity; cultural practices such as different irrigation doses and irrigation systems, fertilisation and salinity; production systems such as soil, soilless, field and greenhouse production practices and the use of pesticides. The post-harvest practices included in the Veg-i-Trade project are post-harvest cooling systems, disinfection techniques, packaging and storage conditions.
Strategy:The work package activities will commence with a literature review on pre- and post-harvest technological interventions affecting food safety of fresh produce. The influence of climatic conditions on several aspects of crop production will be investigated by performing comparable experiments in Spain and Norway (the two countries representing the most extreme climatic conditions). The susceptibility of host plants as vehicles for the transmission of enteric bacteria due to the application of irrigation systems and plant water availability will be covered. The influence of crop tissue susceptibility to contamination with enteric bacteria during production in open field and greenhouse as well as in soil and soilless systems will be evaluated. The effect of pesticides on the susceptibility of crop tissue to pathogen contamination will be addressed.
Processing operations, including decontamination techniques, packaging techniques and storage conditions that could lead to changes in plant-host susceptibility to act as vehicle for the transmission of enteric bacteria will be studied. Plant physiology and tissue structure will be investigated in relation to changes in microbial ecology and metabolite production (influenced by several post-harvest processing factors) and related to the susceptibility of fresh-cut produce to spoilage and fecal contamination. The production of bacterial toxins as influenced by the quality of fresh produce, selected packaging material and storage conditions will be monitored by the optimised immunological and biological methods.