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REFRESH – Minimizing microbial hazards in vegetables cultivated in the Estarreja municipality
Coordinator - Isabel Henriques
Execution dates - 2014-07-01 - 2015-06-30 (12 Months)
Funding Entity - Observatoire Hommes-Millieux - Estarreja
Funding for CESAM - 6000 €
Total Funding - 6000 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro

Despite remarkable advances in food technology, foodborne illnesses are a main cause of morbidity and preventable death worldwide. Vegetables, and in particular leafy greens that are consumed raw (e.g. lettuce, spinach, watercress etc.), are major vehicles for human pathogens transmission. These products may become contaminated with pathogens at several steps of the supply chain. One of the main sources of contamination is the irrigation water. Agriculture is a predominant activity in the municipality of Estarreja. About half of the River Antuã basin is occupied by agricultural fields. These fields are mainly irrigated with water obtained directly from the river. Among the products most commonly cultivated in these fields are leafy greens particularly lettuce but also spinaches, watercress among others. The Antuã River is subjected to several point sources of pollution, which are responsible for low water quality in this river. Additionally previous studies found in Antuã a high prevalence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics that are critically important in human medicine. The contamination of vegetables with bacterial pathogens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria constitutes a serious risk to human health. The main aim of this project is to minimize the microbiological risks associated with vegetables cultivated in the Estarreja municipality. Specific aims are:1) To evaluate the microbiological quality of vegetables cultivated in the Estarreja municipality; 2) To develop simplified and cost-effective routine protocols to evaluate vegetables microbiological quality; 3) To recommend guidelines to stakeholders (e.g. farmers, municipal and health authorities) to reduce vegetables microbiological risks;



Members on this project

Isabel Henriques
Principal Investigator
Marta Tacão