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ES: Pre- and postharvest preventive measures and intervention strategies to control microbial food safety hazards of fresh leafy vegetables

Photo: (CC BY 2.0)  Forest and Kim Starr / Flickr

 
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: This review includes an overview of the most important preventive measures along the farm to fork chain to prevent microbial contamination of leafy greens. It also includes the technological and managerial interventions related to primary production, postharvest handling, processing practices, distribution, and consumer handling to eliminate pathogens in leafy greens. When the microbiological risk is already present, preventive measures to limit actual contamination events or pathogen survival are considered intervention strategies. In codes of practice the focus is mainly put on explaining preventive measures. However, it is also important to establish more focused intervention strategies. This review is centered mainly on leafy vegetables as the commodity identified as the highest priority in terms of fresh produce microbial safety from a global perspective. There is no unique preventive measure or intervention strategy that could be applied at one point of the food chain. We should encourage growers of leafy greens to establish procedures based on the HACCP principles at the level of primary production. The traceability of leafy vegetables along the chain is an essential element in ensuring food safety. Thus, in dealing with the food safety issues associated with fresh produce it is clear that a multidisciplinary farm to fork strategy is required.