Food of plant origin: production methods and microbiological hazards linked to food-borne disease. Reference: CFT/EFSA/BIOHAZ/2012/01 Lot 1 (Food of plant origin with high water content such as fruits, vegetables, juices and herbs)
Food-borne diseases caused by food of non-animal origin (FoNAO) contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites are a major health concern worldwide. The present study was set up as an extensive literature review aimed at evaluating biological hazards associated with FoNAO with high water content. Data were extracted from 432 publications to identify the most critical FoNAO/pathogen combinations. The number and severity of outbreaks of disease provided the basis for a primary evaluation, and qualitative criteria relating to pathogen prevalence, food/pathogen interaction, and the production of FoNAO items were used for defining three priority groups. Highest priority levels worldwide were defined for leafy green vegetables contaminated with pathogenic E. coli. Salmonella on/in leafy greens and tomatoes were also most highly graded. While strawberries and raspberries infected with Norovirus were graded priority one within the EU, cantaloupe melon and tropical fruit contaminated with Salmonella were included in the priority one combinations for non-EU countries.Level two and level three priority groups differed for EU and non-EU countries, including lettuce/Norovirus, basil/Salmonella spp., semidried tomatoes/Hepatitis A virus, grated carrots/Yersinia pseudotuberculosis for EU and lettuce/Norovirus, spinach/pathogenic E.coli, cantaloupe melon/Listeria monocytogenes, and Hepatitis A virus combined with unpasteurized orange juice and green onion for non-EU countries, respectively. The study provides an extensive scientific database that will be instrumental in the conceptualization of specific measures for preventing and efficiently controlling outbreaks of disease linked to FoNAO.