•7 min read
Consumers are very concerned about food safety and quality due to a number of food-related news which has received a great deal of media attention. Consumers are more than ever concerned about obtaining safe food. Food safety is about handling, storing and preparing food to prevent illness and to help to ensure that food retains enough nutrients in order for us to have a healthy diet. Food safety is the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use (WHO & FAO 2009). Ignoring food safety principles means that good food will go bad. Taking shortcuts by avoiding preventive measures which make food safe can have negative effects on health and even shorten people’s lives.
Whoever sells food, regardless of the amount, has both an ethical and legal obligation to ensure that the food is safe to consume. All steps in the food chain (from farm to fork or, in the case of aquaponics, from raft to plate), including plant harvesting and fish slaughter, should be managed in a way that ensures that the food is safe and suitable for its intended use (WHO & FAO 2009). Primary produce (products of primary production consisting of a natural raw material - an unmanufactured product) should also be protected from different kinds of hazards. A hazard is a (micro)biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food which has the potential to cause an adverse health effect. In general, we distinguish between four types of food-related hazards (Table 1), where the biggest focus in aquaponics is on the (micro)biological. Allergen control is an emerging area of concern, and detailed labelling requirements are now in place in the EU. Fish and products thereof are listed in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers as one of fourteen allergens which have to be considered in hazard analysis.
Table 1: Main food-related hazards in aquaponics
(MICRO) BIOLOGICALPathogenic bacteria, viruses, fish parasites, moulds, fungiCHEMICALResidues of plant protection products, veterinary medicines, sanitizers, cleaning agents, test kit reagents, lubricantPHYSICALForeign bodies (metal, glass, wood, parts of packaging material, dust, stones, plastic or glass fragments, needles, etc.)ALLERGENSCereals containing gluten, crustaceans and products thereof, eggs and products thereof, fish and products thereof, peanuts and products thereof, soybeans and products thereof, milk and products thereof (including lactose), nuts and products thereof (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia or Queensland nuts), celery and products thereof, mustard and products thereof, sesame seeds and products thereof, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, lupin and products thereof, molluscs and products thereof.Note: for exceptions please see Annex II to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011.
The main objective of this chapter is to ensure consumer protection through the production of safe food at the first stage of the food supply chain. Therefore, aquaponic producers must be aware of the food safety risk factors, and should maintain the highest level of adherence to good agricultural practice (GAP) and good hygiene practice (GHP) which are described in detail below. Primary produce that is grown with little contamination is less likely to result in health hazards caused by poor handling during the food preparation stages.
Andrej Ovca, Tjaša Griessler Bulc
Aquaponics Association 2015. Provisional GAPs for leafy greens and fruiting crops in commercial aquaponics.
Barnhart, C., Hayes, L. & Ringle, D. 2015. Food Safety Hazards Associated with Smooth-Textured Leafy Greens Produced in Aquaponic, Hydroponic, and Soil-based Systems with and without Roots in Retail. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Aquaponics.
Bihn, E.A., Schermann, M.A., Wszelaki, A.L., Wall, G.L., & Amundson, S.K. 2014. On-Farm Decision Tree Project: Sanitation and Postharvest Handling. National Good Agricultural Practices Programme, Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
CDC 2014. Fish Cooking and Storage Temperatures. BC Centre for Disease Control, British Columbia.
Chalmers, G.A. 2004. Aquaponics and Food Safety.
Copa – Cogeca 2018. EU Guide to Good Hygiene Practice (GGHP) for the primary production of foodstuffs. Copa – Cogeca European Farmers European Agri-Cooperatives, Brussels.
Deering, A.J., Mauer, L.J. & Pruitt, R.E. 2012. Internalization of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. in plants: A review. Food Research International 45 (2), 567-575.
EC 2012. The Common Agricultural Policy - A story to be continued. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
EC 2014. Food Safety. European Commission, Brussels.
EFSA & ECDC 2017. The European Union summary report on trends and sources of zoonoses, zoonotic agents and food-borne outbreaks in 2016. EFSA Journal 15 (12), 5077.
FAO 2006. Glossary. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
FAO 2014. Small-scale Aquaponics Food Production: Integrated Fish and Plant Farming. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 589. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Fox, B.K., Tamaru, C.S., Hollyer, J., Castro, L.F., Fonseca, J.M., Jay-Russell, M. & Low, T. 2012. A Preliminary Study of Microbial Water Quality Related to Food Safety in Recirculating Aquaponic Fish and Vegetable Production Systems. Food Safety and Technology 51. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
Gauthier, D.T. 2015. Bacterial zoonoses of fishes: A review and appraisal of evidence for linkages between fish and human infections. The Veterinary Journal 203 (21), 27-35.
Godfrey, M. 2015. How to Sanitize and Sterilize Hydroponic Systems. Upstart University.
Hollyer, J., Tamaru, C., Riggs, A., Klinger-Bowen, R., Howerton, R., Okimoto, D., Castro, L., Ron, T., Fox, B.K., Troegner, V. & Martinez, G. 2009. On-Farm Food Safety: Aquaponics. Food Safety and Technology 38. University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
Joly, A., Junge, R. & Bardocz, T. 2015. Aquaponics business in Europe: some legal obstacles and solutions. Ecocycles 1 (2), 3-5.
Lee, J., Phelps, N., Driessen, S., Schermann, M. & Waters, K. 2015. Keeping Aquaponics Products Safe. University of Minnesota.
Moran, N. 2013. Keep it clean. Greenhouse Management November 2013.
Moriarty, M.J., Semmens, K., Bissonnette, G.K. & Jaczynski, J. 2018. Inactivation with UV-radiation and internalization assessment of coliforms and Escherichia coli in aquaponically grown lettuce. LWT
Raspor, P. & Jevšnik, M. 2008. Good nutritional practice from producer to consumer. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 48 (3), 276-292.
WHO & FAO 2009. Food Hygiene: Basic Texts (4th edition) World Health Organization / Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Copyright © Partners of the Aqu@teach Project. Aqu@teach is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership in Higher Education (2017-2020) led by the University of Greenwich, in collaboration with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland), the Technical University of Madrid (Spain), the University of Ljubljana and the Biotechnical Centre Naklo (Slovenia).
Please see the table of contents for more topics.