Next Article in Journal
Increased Long-Term Mortality among Black CABG Patients Receiving Preoperative Inotropic Agents
Next Article in Special Issue
Effect of Neem (Azadirachta indica) on the Survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Dairy Manure
Previous Article in Journal
Comparison of the Cumulative Incidence Rates of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis between 1970 and 2013 among Four State-Owned Colliery Groups in China
Previous Article in Special Issue
Diverse Land Use and the Impact on (Irrigation) Water Quality and Need for Measures — A Case Study of a Norwegian River
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(7), 7457-7477; doi:10.3390/ijerph120707457

Irrigation Water Quality for Leafy Crops: A Perspective of Risks and Potential Solutions

Research Group on Quality, Safety and Bioactivity of Plant Foods, Department of Food Science and Technology, CEBAS-CSIC, Campus Universitario de Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain
Fresh Produce Research Centre, Department of Crop and Environment Sciences, Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, TF10 8NB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Mieke Uyttendaele, Eelco Franz and Oliver Schlüter
Received: 4 June 2015 / Revised: 25 June 2015 / Accepted: 29 June 2015 / Published: 3 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Safety)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1759 KB, uploaded 3 July 2015]   |  


There is increasing evidence of the contribution of irrigation water in the contamination of produce leading to subsequent outbreaks of foodborne illness. This is a particular risk in the production of leafy vegetables that will be eaten raw without cooking. Retailers selling leafy vegetables are increasingly targeting zero-risk production systems and the associated requirements for irrigation water quality have become more stringent in regulations and quality assurance schemes (QAS) followed by growers. Growers can identify water sources that are contaminated with potential pathogens through a monitoring regime and only use water free of pathogens, but the low prevalence of pathogens makes the use of faecal indicators, particularly E. coli, a more practical approach. Where growers have to utilise water sources of moderate quality, they can reduce the risk of contamination of the edible portion of the crop (i.e., the leaves) by treating irrigation water before use through physical or chemical disinfection systems, or avoid contact between the leaves and irrigation water through the use of drip or furrow irrigation, or the use of hydroponic growing systems. This study gives an overview of the main problems in the production of leafy vegetables associated with irrigation water, including microbial risk and difficulties in water monitoring, compliance with evolving regulations and quality standards, and summarises the current alternatives available for growers to reduce microbial risks. View Full-Text
Keywords: leafy vegetables; irrigation water; food safety; QAS; GAP; water disinfection treatment; hydroponics leafy vegetables; irrigation water; food safety; QAS; GAP; water disinfection treatment; hydroponics

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Allende, A.; Monaghan, J. Irrigation Water Quality for Leafy Crops: A Perspective of Risks and Potential Solutions. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 7457-7477.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top