WP6: Food Safety & Public Health

WP6: Food Safety and Public Health

Leading partner/ co-ordinator: University of Copenhagen (UCPH)


  1. Safety of aquaculture produce improved for all stakeholders in the value chain and the health of farmers protected by improved food safety inspection and laboratory standards and control of main food safety and occupational health hazards.

Description of work and role of participants

T6.1 Identification and characterization of main food safety hazards: Derived from the initial assessment of systems (WP2) as well as the life cycle analysis (WP3), environmental models (WP4) and assessment of contaminant risks (WP7), main food safety hazards (human pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites; residues of antimicrobials/disinfectants/heavy metals and persistent organic compounds related to agricultural, urban and industrial settings) of commodities will be identified and characterized. Also, human exposures to such contaminants will be described. The identification of the main food safety hazards will be guided by data from laboratory analyses, in-dept literature reviews, and retention data on contaminants in imported fish and shrimp products to the EU (from responsible food safety authorities in exporting and importing countries, i.e. the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the FAO. Asian partners will be responsible for the collection of national data. Recommendations prepared on how to prevent and control the main hazards identified.

T6.2: Case studies of Salmonella and fishborne zoonotic parasites along the pond-to-table chain: The bacterial enteric pathogen Salmonella has for decades been a major contaminant of produce from aquaculture (Dalsgaard, A., 1998) where as the fishborne zoonotic trematode parasites (Clonorchis sinensis, Opistorchis viverrini, and intestinal trematodes), which cause liver and intestinal infections in humans, are widespread zoonotic pathogens in fish and humans in China, Thailand, and Vietnam (Dung et al. 2007; Chai et al., 2005). Human cases with trematodes are also occurring in Europe and the USA following consumption of imported infected fish and these parasites are emerging zoonoses that are directly related to the increased trade of seafoods. Occurrence and risk factors of Salmonella will be assessed in shrimp (Bangladesh and Vietnam) and pangasius (Vietnam) with sampling of fish and products along the pond-to-table chain. Existing data on the occurrence of these parasites (to be provided by the FIBOZOPA project; www.fibozopa.ria1.org where the UCPH partner is project responsible) will be used to prepare prevention and control programs for mitigating risks for infection of pangasius in Vietnam. Building on data collected in tasks T2.5 and T6.1, any further data needed on the two pathogens will be collected from national control institutions and laboratories. Other types of case studies may be initiated based on the outcome of the initiation situation appraisal done in T2.5, e.g. faecal pollution and food safety aspects of pangasius and tilapia culture fertilized with animal manure/human faeces, e.g. so-called overhung latrine fish (pangasius) culture in Mekong Delta. Training of Asian partner institutions in methodologies and development of common protocols for sample collection, processing and laboratory analyses. Data obtained will be used for risk assessments in close collaboration with WP 4 activities. Recommendations for prevention and control of the pathogens studied, including options for post-harvest mitigations, will be disseminated to end users through workshops and a research-based policy brief, including farmers, processors, retailers and importing European countries as well as international stakeholders, e.g. FAO and WHO.

T.6.3 Food safety and environmental aspects of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms:
The emergence of multiple antimicrobial resistant bacterial pathogens worldwide is a direct threat to human health with pathogens increasingly becoming resistant to available drug therapy. It is well-documented that consumption of foods containing resistant pathogens is an important means of transmission. Also, non-pathogenic bacteria naturally occurring in foods may show high levels of resistance and is an important source of resistance genes that can be transferred to pathogens in the human gut. Resistant micro-organisms are typically found at high levels in foods produced in countries with inadequate control of antimicrobial usage. For aquaculture produce, the attention has so far been on detection and detention of imported seafoods containing antimicrobial residues (see also task 7. 2) with several such findings reported in Asian shrimp imported to the EU. In this task studies will be conducted on occurrence and assessment of the health importance of antimicrobial resistant bacteria (normal flora populations) in pangasius (Vietnam) and shrimp (Bangladesh, Vietnam) at point of harvest and when imported into the EU. Asian partner institutions will be trained and supervised by UCPH in conducting such studies, including standard methods for monitoring antimicrobial resistance (disk diffusion and MIC methods). Antimicrobial bacterial resistance data will be evaluated utilizing data collected in T2.5, T6.1 and T7.2.

Most hatcheries in Asia producing shrimp larvae and pangasius fry routinely use disinfectants and antimicrobials to prevent and control diseases. Antimicrobial residues contained in water, sediment and other waste types are subsequently discharged into the external aquatic environment. UCPH will use experiences from similar studies (integrated poultry and fish production in Thailand and discharge of hospital and pharmaceutical wastes into sewers) to conduct hatchery-based studies with Asian partners (Vietnam). The environmental impact of discharge of antimicrobials in hatchery wastes will be assessed through monitoring resistance developments among the natural aquatic recipient microflora by standard methods. Data obtained as well as literature data will be used for risk assessments (in collaboration with WP7 activities) of food safety aspects and environmental impacts. Recommendations for prevention, including prudent use practices, and control of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in shrimp and fish as well as reducing environmental impacts, will be disseminated to end users.

T6.4: Case studies of occupational health hazards: The prevention and control of occupational health hazards among aquaculture farmers and other workers in the aquaculture sector, e.g. workers in processing factories, should be ensured in any sustainable and ethical aquaculture production. Studies of occupational health hazards will be implemented among selected pangasius and shrimp farmers (and their family members) in Vietnam and Bangladesh and will be based on self-perceived hazards identified through questionnaire-based interviews as well as observational surveys done by trained local health personnel. Asian partners will be trained and instructed to conduct such studies using common protocols. Information on health hazards and clinical symptoms will also be collected from local and national health institutions and farmer organizations, e.g. skin-associated problems through exposure to water and antimicrobials; leptospirosis, diarrhoea and respiratory diseases. For workers in processing plants information from questionnaire-based interviews of workers and processing operators as well as local health personnel will enable the identification of main hazards, e.g. skin infections (peeling, handling of fish/shrimp and diarrhoea). Results obtained will be used to prepare recommendations on prevention and control of occupational health hazards.


D6.1 (month 12) Report on food safety hazards and human contaminant exposure.

D6.2 (month 28-42) Report and scientific article(s) on main food safety hazards and human exposure assessments (month 28). Report and scientific article(s) on occurrence and measures recommended for control of Salmonella and fishborne zoonotic trematode parasites (control measures only). Risk assessment report/article (month 36); workshop report and research-based policy brief prepared and disseminated to end users (month 42).

D6.3: (month 28-42) Report and scientific article(s) on occurrence and assessment of the health importance of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in pangasius and shrimp (month 36); Report and scientific article(s) on environmental impact and risk assessment of discharge of antimicrobials from hatcheries (month 36); workshop report and recommendations for prevention and control of development of antimicrobial resistance disseminated (month 42).

D6.4 (month 28) Report and scientific article(s) describing main occupational health hazards for aquaculture farmers, their family members and workers in processing plants as well as mitigation measures for prevention and hazard control.

Photo © Loni Hensler