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Mieke Uyttendaele - Articles and news items

Fresh produce rejections at EU border inspection posts

Issue 5 2013  •  4 November 2013  •  Sigrid Van Boxstael, Liesbeth Jacxsens & Mieke Uyttendaele, Department of Food Safety and Quality, Ghent University

The consumption and coincident international trade of fresh produce has strongly increased during the last few decades. At present, the EU is one of the largest importers and exporters of fresh produce in the world. Despite the beneficial health effects of fresh produce, there is a growing awareness concerning its microbial and chemical food safety. In the EU, in 2009 and 2010 respectively, 4.4 per cent and 10 per cent of the foodborne verified outbreaks were linked to the consumption of vegetables, fruits and juices. Such outbreaks have not only very severe consequences for public health but also a significant economic impact.

EU FP7 Veg-i-Trade investigates pre and post-harvest practices influencing microbial quality and safety of leafy greens

Issue 4 2012  •  5 September 2012  •  Maria I. Gil, Ana Allende and Maria V. Selma, Research Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods, CEBAS-CSIC and Mieke Uyttendaele, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Ghent University

Fresh leafy vegetables (e.g. lettuce, spinach, escarole, cabbage and other baby leaves used in salad mixes) are an important part of a healthy diet. Global consumption levels are expected to increase in the future. However, due to recent disease outbreaks and rapid alerts attributed to fresh produce, concerns have emerged with regard to food safety. This was exemplified by the E. coli 0104 outbreak in Europe in Spring 2011. Experts have identified climate change and global trade to present further challenges for assuring food safety.

With the aim of giving an answer to the emerging food safety issues in fresh produce, the European project Veg-i-Trade is assessing the impact of anticipated climate change and globalisation on safety issues concerning fresh produce and derived food products. This multidisciplinary project comprises both fundamental and applied research. It focuses on the economic structure of the fresh produce global market and on the development of control measures for microbiological and chemical hazards. Veg-i-Trade research integrates several tools including sampling and analytical testing methods, field studies on pre and postharvest practices, quality assurance, modelling and simulation, risk assessment and risk communication. Results from the CEBAS-CSIC research team are presented dealing with pre and post-harvest production of leafy vegetables as well as fresh-cut processing practices on microbial and overall quality of leafy greens.

Use of molecular techniques in the food industry

Issue 2 2009  •  1 June 2009  •  Mieke Uyttendaele and Andreja Rajkovic, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, Ghent University

Microbial analysis in foods is an integrated part of management of microbial safety in the food chain. Both competent authorities and individual food business operators use microbial analysis for monitoring of the actual situation and trend analysis in order to detect emerging risks. For compliance testing to defined microbiological criteria or assessment of the performance of management strategies based upon HACCP, microbial analysis is also a valuable tool. Molecular techniques, especially the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), are one of the most important rapid methods for the sensitive and specific detection of pathogenic micro-organisms.


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