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Fresh produce (e.g. leafy vegetables, tomatoes, soft red fruits, …) are an important part of the healthy diet and its consumption is expected to increase in the coming years. However due to recent disease out-breaks and alerts attributed to fresh produce and derived food products, international, European and national concerns have begun to emerge with regard to food safety.

Veg-i-Trade provided platforms for the identification of the impact of anticipated climate change and globalisation of trade on food safety of fresh produce and derived food products. The project focused on microbial safety (enteric bacteria, viruses and protozoa) and safety related to pesticide residues and emerging mycotoxins.

The main pillars of the Veg-i-Trade project concerned the mapping of the economical structure of the fresh produce supply chain as well as logistic modelling using plausible scenarios of climate change affecting trade flows on a European and global level.
Using risk assessment as a tool, current and future risks have been ranked and risk-based sampling plans developed. Furthermore control measures (pre- and post- harvest) of managerial and technological nature were developed in the fresh produce chain. This implied the pro-active investigation of aspects of horticultural production practices, water quality and treatment and packaging technologies.

Horticultural safety management systems (HSMS) belong to the corner stones of quality assurance programs. The development and validation of diagnostic instruments as tools to systematically assess the performance of HSMS from operators in various climate zones led to recommendations on the European and global levels concerning quality assurance and the setting of science-based performance objectives.

The research results of the Veg-i-Trade project have been communicated to the stakeholders in the global food chain. Furthermore, capacity building by training and workshops in European and ICPC countries was foreseen. A discussion forum for reflection on issues of acceptable risk, sustainability of fresh produce production and long-term strategy of international food trade has been created, with no compromise in terms of the sovereignty of food safety for European consumers. This provided key conditions for the development and prioritization of risk-management strategies.
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