There’s a growing worldwide market for fresh, ready-to-eat leafy vegetables like lettuce and baby leaf crops.

However, since most vegetable products are minimally processed or eaten raw, it’s important that work to meet this increasing demand also continues to live up to Australia’s strong history of food safety.

The Australian horticulture industry takes food safety very seriously, and there are a range of completed, current and planned industry initiatives to ensure we continue delivering fresh, clean and safe produce – from research projects investigating pathogen persistence from paddock to plate to industry roundtables about how to build on our strong food safety regime.

A project funded by Hort Innovation has researched an innovative way to support our great reputation for food safety by aiming to construct a working prototype of a new-generation sensor. This sensor could detect dangerous microorganisms in leafy vegetables, both on-farm and in the packaging chain.

Now completed, the project has laid the foundation for a tool that is small and portable enough to be used in the field at any stage while the vegetable is growing, in the processing floors where vegetables are sized and packaged, or even at the point of purchase.

Although the technology failed to successfully detect bacteria during the project’s research, the research team at the University of Sydney has reported that the methodology was sound, with the team achieving encouraging results with improvements to the sensor’s sensitivity.

Learn more about the project and the outcomes of its testing on the InfoVeg database.

This post appeared in the AUSVEG Weekly Update published 22 January 2019. Subscribe to the Update using our online form to receive the latest industry news in your inbox every week!