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Training in tools to develop quantitative risk assessment of fresh produce using water reuse systems in Mediterranean production

on the Wiley Online Library

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Abstract

Water resources are increasingly coming under pressure specially around the Mediterranean area, leading to water scarcity and a deterioration in water quality. The use of treated wastewater represents an alternative source to enhance the demand for irrigation water. Water reuse in combination with the promotion of the use of water‐efficient technologies in industry and water‐saving irrigation techniques could lead to good qualitative and quantitative water status for surface and ground water bodies. Nevertheless, food‐borne outbreaks linked to fresh produce irrigated with partially or untreated wastewater caused by bacteria, parasites and enteropathogenic viruses have been widely reported. In the absence of solid scientific understanding of the actual risks involved, consumers are likely less receptive to buy leafy greens irrigated with treated wastewater, also known as reclaimed water. In this study, we aimed to assess the microbiological risks of leafy green vegetables irrigated with treated wastewater in Spain using Norovirus as a model organism to facilitate the development of risk management strategies. A conceptual exposure model was designed to describe the virus fate and transport from the Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) secondary effluent to the consumers' fork. This study is an example of the use of reclaimed water for irrigation of commercial fields producing leafy greens in the south‐east of Spain and tries to assess potential microbiological risks to the consumers by establishing their safety.