Overall objectiveThe objective of WP 6 is to perform probabilistic risk assessments (related to enteric bacteria, viruses or protozoa) of fresh produce and derived food products in Europe, taking into consideration the effects of packaging, logistics, climate change and globalisation. The outcome of the risk assessment will lead to the discussion of acceptable risk on microbiological hazards related to fresh produce and geographical factor (globalisation) and reviewed in the frame of climate change scenarios. The prioritisaton of microbiological hazards in fresh produce by comparative risk assessment is also one of the objectives of WP 6.
Strategy:This WP is divided into two parts. The first concerns the development (if not currently available), evaluation, optimisation and implementation of detection methods for enteric bacteria, viruses and protozoa in fresh produce and derived products. Furthermore, a Horticultural Assessment Scheme (HAS) in support of the HSMS diagnostic instrument (see WP 2), will be developed. HAS is a systematic procedure that supports the decision on critical sampling locations, frequency of sampling, sampling methods, microbiological methods and interpretation of the results.
In order to be able to compare the different practices (production and processing) objectively with respect to pathogenic microorganisms, it is important that the institutions use the same methodology and also use the methods correctly. Therefore, training related to the implemented analysis methods and HAS is foreseen in this work package. Subsequently, data on microbial status of the selected products will be collected by the use of HAS, from Belgium, Norway, Spain, Eastern Europe (Serbia) and the participating ICPC countries.
The second part of the WP concerns risk assessment. Risk assessment is the appropriate tool to provide the link between hazard control and consumer risk and will be undertaken for defined case studies for selected combinations of fresh produce commodities and microbial hazards. Veg-i-Trade will focus on enteric viruses such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A virus and rotavirus; enteric bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella spp.; and protozoa such as Cryptosporidium. Key information for the risk assessments is the input on the prevalence of the microbial hazards in the various stages in the fresh produce production and processing chain (first part of the WP, see text above). Finally, the collection of data on the status of handling practices and consumption patterns that affect exposure to microbial hazards in fresh produce is included in the Veg-i-Trade project. The risk assessment studies are expected to fuel the discussions related to risk ranking, prioritization of intervention strategies, development of risk based sampling plans and elaboration of food safety standards to control microbial hazards in the fresh produce chain.