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Scoping study on different on-farm treatment options to reduce the high microbial contaminant loads of irrigation water to reduce the related food safety risk
Expanded Title:Recent research has shown that the microbiological quality of South African rivers has become a reason for concern (Britz et al., 2013). Insufficient sanitation facilities and inadequate sewage treatment works throughout South Africa have often been implicated as the primary sources of pollution. Farmers are often dependent on these rivers as their only source of irrigation water, and thus their use poses a possible health risk to farm workers and consumers alike. The extent of this pollution and the link with food safety was investigated in a five year WRC-funded study, which emphasised that many rivers were of an unacceptable microbiological standard and did not meet international faecal guidelines for safe irrigation water. This presents the scenario where consumers unknowingly face a high risk of being infected with harmful organisms when consuming fresh produce. One only needs to recall the recent tragic outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 in Germany during 2011 to realise the potential risks. Contaminated (presumably by irrigation water) fenugreek seeds of Egyptian origin were identified as the causative agent which claimed the lives of 47 individuals and led to approximately 4 000 confirmed infections in Germany (EFSA, 2011). Prevention of river and irrigation water pollution would be the ultimate solution, but in the interim cost effective treatment techniques for irrigation water are required to ensure food safety. Several disinfection techniques exist that are currently used on-farm. These are generally classified into one of three categories, namely: chemical (chlorine, bromine, hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid or ozone based), mechanical/physical (filtration) and physical/photochemical (ultrasound, UV) disinfection (Raudales et al., 2014). The effectiveness of these treatments depends on parameters of water quality, including total dissolved solids, turbidity, pH, total suspended solids and chemical oxygen demand (Jones et al., 2014).
Date Published:06/09/2016
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Agricultural Water - Small holder irrigation
Document Keywords:Health
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Technical
WRC Report No:2174/1/16
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0824-1
Authors:Sigge GO; Lamprecht C
Project No:K5/2174
Originator:WRC
Organizations:Stellenbosch University
Document Size:3 854 KB
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