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VEG-I-TRADE - Impact of Climate Change and Globalisation on Safety of Fresh Produce Governing a Supply Chain of Uncompromised Food Sovereignty

Baele, Margo
University of Ghent
Start date
End date
VEG-i-TRADE provides platforms to identify impacts of anticipated climate change and globalisation on food safety, microbiological and chemical hazards, of fresh produce and derived food products. Control measures of managerial and technological nature will be developed in the supply chain of crop production, post-harvest processing and logistics to minimize food safety risks.

The assessment of the performance of horticultural safety management systems by a novel diagnostic instrument at EU level exemplified by several countries in Europe and tailored on a global level including major EU trade partners from various climate zones will lead to recommendations on European and global level on quality assurance and the setting of science-based performance objectives.

VEG-i-TRADE will pro-actively invest in problem solving technologies for safe produce investigating aspects of water quality and water treatment, horticultural production practices, disinfection treatment and packaging technologies. These control measures will be exploited in collaboration with SMEs and industrial partners. Baseline studies on the hazards, intervention technologies and best practices in the fresh produce chain will provide input for both microbial and chemical risk assessment to elaborate support to risk-based sampling plans, evaluate the risks of newly identified threats as affected by the global trade system and anticipated climate change.

The project output will craft a discussion forum for stakeholders in the global food chain reflecting on issues of acceptable risk, sustainability of fresh produce production and long term strategy of international food trade, while making no compromise in food safety for European consumers and in respectation of food sovereignty. Risk communication to increase awareness of trade partners production systems and the uneven consumer behaviour will provide key conditions for prioritisation of risk management strategies.

More information

Safety checks for fresh produce amid global changes:

With climate change and a global population rapidly edging towards 9 billion, the challenge for adequate food supplies will continue. But, rising demands may also mean a rise in serious safety concerns.

The EU-funded VEG-I-TRADE project aims to identify how climate change and globalisation affect food safety issues, such as microbial and chemical hazards. The project also seeks to develop response mechanisms to eliminate or minimise the risks.

To achieve their goals, researchers are integrating different tools such as field studies, modelling and risk assessments. A full analysis of trade and production volumes in the EU and abroad has already been done. This analysis included measuring the current level of implementation of best practices and management systems aimed at the assurance of fresh produce safety. The results have allowed for the identification and selection of case studies in several countries.

Proper pre- and post-harvest practices as well as adequate water treatment technologies have also been identified. In addition, the team developed microbial growth models and packaging conditions to optimise the transport and storage of fresh-cut produce.

Another achievement is the advancement of a microbial sampling and analysis tool. By using this at various stages in the crop cycle, it becomes possible to build a microbial profile of a given production process.

VEG-I-TRADE researchers will to continue to investigate and create more models and indicators for use in quality and safety assurance. Their efforts should aid in the establishment of a successful system of preventive measures and checks to ensure that global changes do not negatively affect fresh produce and hence human health. Watch the project's video here.

Funding Source
European Commission
Project source
View this project
Project number
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Bacterial Pathogens