Project: Risks and Recommendations Regarding Human Pathogens in Organic Vegetable Production Chains

PathOrganic assesses risks associated with the consumption of fresh and minimally processed vegetables due to the prevalence of bacterial human pathogens (e.g. Salmonella enterica, pathogenic E. coli, Campylobacter spp., Listeria monocytogenes) in organically grown plant produce. The project aims at evaluating whether organic production poses a risk on food safety and addresses the food chain by taking into consideration potential sources of pathogen transmission (e.g. animal manure). In addition, it evaluates whether organic production may reduce the risk of pathogen manifestation. From a European perspective, vegetable-linked outbreaks are not well investigated. Within the PathOrganic project, surveys of organically grown vegetables are carried out in five European countries, and regionally different environmental and management factors are taken into consideration for performing risk assessment. In order to carry out a meaningful survey and to choose appropriate experimental plans, a model for pathogen transfer to selected plants is built in work package 1 (WP 1) to describe relevant food chains. Based on this model sampling strategies and methodological adjustments are made. A questionnaire is set up to describe current management practices (WP 1). WP 2 of the project is dedicated to surveying the presence of food pathogens in organic plant produce. As a major part of the project, field surveys of organic farming systems are performed and vegetable plants are sampled in five European countries. The analysis of relevant parameters is done by the respective partners with the appropriate expertise. “Risk crops” and “risk factors” are identified and specific production procedures shall be investigated, leading to the determination of critical control points (CCPs). Factors suggesting a problem concerning food safety are subjected to more detailed analysis in WP3 by performing specifically targeted greenhouse and field experiments. These experiments allow analyzing critical environmental and management factors and at the same time enable to re-assess the critical control points. Finally, based on the results obtained in the previous WPs, in WP 4 recommendations will be provided for improving procedures which secure consumer-oriented food safety and the quality of certified organic vegetable food chains. Thus, project results shall enable producers and other stake holders to prevent and better control plant produce-associated outbreaks.

Acronym PathOrganic
Duration 01/08/2007 - 31/07/2011
Website visit project website
Network CORE Organic
Call CORE-ORGANIC Pilot Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna Austria
Wageningen University & Research - Wageningen Plant Research Netherlands
Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
Austrian Research Centers GmbH Coordinator Austria
The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research - Agroscope Switzerland
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden
German Research Center for Environmental Health Germany
University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Life Sciences Denmark
The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research - Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon Research Station Switzerland
Technical University of Denmark - National Food Institute Denmark
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland