Prioritising water disinfection technologies to improve food safety of leafy vegetables

E.D. Van Asselt*, J.L. Banach, M. Klüche, W.A.J. Appelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose - Leafy vegetables may get contaminated with pathogens through the use of irrigation water during open field cultivation. The main control option to prevent this contamination is the use of disinfection technologies that will reduce the pathogenic load of the irrigation water. Several technologies, either chemical or physical, are available for disinfection, which were gathered from the literature and European Union (EU) projects. The purpose of this paper is to prioritise these technologies.
Design/methodology/approach - A feasibility study was performed to identify the most promising disinfection technology considering 12 different criteria. A two-tier approach was used in which the technologies were first evaluated based on three criteria: legal status, effectiveness and technology readiness level (TRL). Only the technologies that reached pre-set thresholds for these three criteria were then evaluated in the second tier.
Findings - The evaluation showed that the most promising technologies after the tier-2 evaluation were ultrasound, microfiltration, ultraviolet and ozone. The study showed that the followed approach enabled prioritising disinfection technologies allowing for selecting the most promising technologies that can be tested further on a possible application during primary production to prevent possible food safety issues in leafy vegetables.
Research limitations/implications - The overview is not an exhaustive list of disinfection technologies available rather only those technologies that seemed promising for application in horticulture were addressed. Some technologies may, thus, have been missed. Nevertheless, a total of 12 single and seven combined technologies were evaluated.
Originality/value - This is the first study that uses a structured approach to prioritise a broad range of possible water disinfection technologies for use at primary production
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1899-1912
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number5
Early online date8 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Disinfection technologies
  • Feasibility study
  • Irrigation water
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Microbiological safety
  • Pathogens
  • Ranking


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