Module 5: Agricultural Water Two Sections on Water
Module 5: Agricultural Water Two Sections on Water Part I: Production Water Water used in contact with produce during growth Irrigation, fertigation, foliar sprays, frost protection Part II: Postharvest Water Water used during or after harvest 3
Agricultural Water Quality All agricultural water must be safe and of adequate sanitary quality for its intended use Applies to water used for purposes outlined in both Parts I and II of this module 4 Module 5: Part I Production Water Learning Objectives Identify risks that impact the microbial safety of water sources
Describe practices such as water application method and timing that can reduce those risks Adopt practices that limit impacts to the environment, soil quality, and wildlife habitat Describe the importance of water testing Describe FDA agricultural water quality criteria Describe actions that could be taken if agricultural water related risks are identified Identify records necessary to document agricultural water quality and use 6 Production Water Concerns Many factors impact the quality of water Many sources and uses of water on the farm Human pathogens can be introduced into water and
contaminate produce during growing activities Produce safety is impacted by all of these things! 7 Production Water Uses Include: Irrigation Fertigation Crop sprays Cooling
Frost protection Dust abatement Other uses where water directly contacts produce 8 Evaluating Risks Related to Production Water Three main impact points for produce safety risks related to production water are: 1. Production water source and quality Public water supply, ground water, surface water Testing frequency and sampling location
2. Application method Water that does not contact the harvestable portion Water that contacts the harvestable portion of the crop 3. Timing of application At planting or close to harvest 9 Probability of Contamination Higher Risk Lower Risk Public Water Supply Treated
Ground Water Surface Water Open to Environment 10 Preventing Contamination of Water from Public Water Supplies Public water supplies are treated to meet microbial drinking water standards, but distribution systems can introduce risks, therefore: Assess your connection to the public water supply and distribution system downstream
Test the water if you have any concerns about the water source Have a back-up plan if you think water in the distribution system may be unsafe 11 Preventing Contamination of Ground Water Sources Inspect well to ensure it is in good condition Inspect wellhead to ensure it is properly capped and elevated Be sure land slopes away from wellhead to prevent runoff contamination into
the well Install backflow prevention devices 12 Preventing Contamination of Surface Water Sources Assess nearby land use and upstream water activities to identify risks Work with neighbors and local watershed groups to understand and minimize identified risks Assess and address runoff risks Develop diversion ditches, berms or containments to minimize environmental runoff, runoff from manure and compost piles, or runoff from livestock feeding areas
Monitor and control animal access to irrigation water sources where practical (e.g., irrigation reservoirs) 14 Methods of Irrigation Overhead (sprinkler) Higher risk: A direct water application method resulting in contact with produce Flood (surface, furrow) May avoid direct contact with produce Consider risk of contact with contaminated soil during harvest or from splash
Drip (trickle, subsurface, micro, under canopy) Lower risk: Produce generally not in direct contact (except root crops), reduces foliar diseases, improves water use efficiency 15 Less Contact with Water = Lower Risk A key question for evaluation of risk is: Is the water applied using a direct water application method? If the answer is never, the risk from water is very low If the answer is yes, the type of commodity, quality of the water and the timing of the application should be reviewed to assess risks
16 Pathogens on Produce May Die Off Over Time Environmental conditions can influence die-off rates including Desiccation (drying out) Sunlight (ultraviolet irradiation) Temperature and humidity Starvation and competition
Some pathogens may be protected on the plant and survive for extended periods of time Under some conditions, pathogens can even regrow on a plant so avoiding contamination is best 17 Inspect Agricultural Water Sources and Water Distribution Systems Water can be contaminated at the source, or it can become contaminated in the distribution system Mapping all water distribution systems is recommended Water sources and distribution systems must be inspected at least annually
Must keep water sources free of debris, trash, domesticated animals, and other hazards 18 Evaluating Water Quality: Use of Microbial Water Quality Profiles Testing is the only way to quantitatively evaluate the microbial quality of the water The water quality profile can help you: Understand the long-term quality of source water Understand appropriate uses for each source Determine if corrective measures are needed if the microbial water quality profile exceeds numerical GM and
STV criteria in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule 19 Fecal coliforms Total coliforms Pathogenic E. coli Found in some feces Other pathogens that may be present when feces is present
Generic Escherichia coli (E. coli) is an indicator of fecal contamination E. coli is not a direct measure of the presence of human pathogens E. coli is the indicator used to measure water quality in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule The Coliform Group of Bacteria Generic E. coli is an Established Indicator
Salmonella A different bacteria Cryptosporidium A protozoan Generic E. coli Bacteria found mostly in feces Hepatitis A A virus 20
Water Quality Criteria for Water Used During Growing Activities Apply to water used with a direct water application method to covered produce Each source of production water must be tested to evaluate whether its water quality profile meets the following criteria: o 126 or less colony forming units (CFU) generic E. coli per 100 mL water geometric mean (GM) AND o 410 or less CFU generic E. coli per 100 mL water statistical threshold value (STV) 21
Geometric Means and Statistical Threshold Values Test results must be used to calculate Geometric Means and Statistical Threshold Values to compare to water quality criteria in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule GM (Typical value) Tools will be available to assist in calculating these values STV (High-range)
o The geometric mean (GM) is a log-scale average, the typical value o The statistical threshold value (STV) is a measure of variability, the estimated high range value (approximated 90th percentile) o In the image to the right, both the GM and the STV values for the data meet criteria 22 Requirements for Public Water Sources Source Testing Requirement
Public Water Copy of test results or current certificates Supply of compliance With appropriate documentation, there is no requirement to test water that meets the requirements for public water supplies. 23 Microbial Water Quality Profile: Survey of Ground Water Sources Source Initial and Annual Testing Requirement
Ground 4 or more times during the growing season or over the period of a year 1 or more samples rolled into profile every year after initial year Profile samples must be representative of use and must be collected as close in time as practicable to, but before, harvest 24 Microbial Water Quality Profile:
Survey of Surface Water Sources Source Initial and Annual Testing Requirement Surface 20 or more times over a period of 2 to 4 years 5 or more samples rolled into profile every year after initial survey Profile samples must be representative of use and must be collected as close in time as practicable to, but before, harvest
25 Where Do I Collect Samples? Surface water and ground water: o Take a representative sample appropriate for the water source Municipal/public water supply: o No sample required if testing reports obtained from the water utility, treatment plant, or lab o Optional sampling at different points in the distribution system can be useful 26
How Do I Collect Samples? Follow all sample submission instructions from the laboratory A sterile bottle must be used to collect samples Do not rinse bottle before sampling In a distribution system, allow the water to run before sampling in order to collect a representative sample 27 Where Do I Go For Testing?
Find a lab that is certified by state and local environmental agencies, or third-party accreditors Be certain the lab can provide the test you need Quantitative analysis using Method 1603 (modified mTEC) Upper limit of test high enough to measure your water quality and calculate profile statistics Be sure the lab provides sampling instructions Labs should provide instructions for acceptable sampling containers, hold times, storing, and transport expectations
28 Corrective Measures Three types of corrective measures are allowed if the microbial water quality profile does not meet water quality criteria: 1. Apply a time interval for microbial die off i. ii. Between last application and harvest Between harvest and the end of storage and/or removal during activities such as commercial washing 2. Re-inspect the water system, identify problems, and
make necessary changes and confirm effectiveness 3. Treat the water 29 Corrective Measure: Water Application and Timing Risks from production water may be reduced by maximizing the time between last application and harvest One option for a corrective measures is to use a microbial die-off rate of 0.5 log per day between last application and harvest for up to four consecutive days This is important if your initial water quality profile does not
meet GM and STV criteria! 30 Corrective Actions Needed? Unintentional Water Contact Broken Emitters and Other Water Application Issues What is known about the quality of the water? How close is harvest? Human Mistakes Spray applications accidentally mixed with untreated surface water Forgetting to turn off irrigation pumps, may result in in-field flooding
Flood Events If the produce has come in contact with flood water from overflowing streams or open bodies of water, it is considered adulterated by the FDA and cannot be used for food Contact with flood water that is not part of a natural disaster may be subject to provisions of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule 31 Corrective Measure: Re-Inspection and Corrective Actions If there is a problem with your water, be cautious until you know more! Re-inspect water system for contamination sources Manure runoff, migratory birds, septic tank leaching
Use corrective actions that address contamination sources under your control Keep in mind state, county, and federal regulations Implement strategies to prevent contamination from happening Confirm that the changes were effective 32 Corrective Measure: Treating Production Water Any chemicals used to treat water must be EPA
registered and labeled for intended use Non-chemical treatments, called pesticide devices by EPA, may be used if they adequately reduce microbial risks Filter units, UV light units, ozonator units You should avoid water treatments that may have negative environmental and soil quality impacts You must keep records of all treatment monitoring done 33 Recordkeeping Keep required records such as:
Findings of the inspection of water system Water test results Monitoring of water treatments Corrective measures taken, if any Scientific data or information to support compliance including treatment, calculations, and testing Scientific data or information to support alternative indicators, criteria, or sampling frequencies 40 Summary Contaminated agricultural water has been implicated in some foodborne outbreaks associated with fresh produce Knowing the water quality through long-term testing will help
establish management practices for appropriate use of the water If the water IS NOT applied by a direct application method to the harvestable portion of the crop, the risks are lower Extend time between last application of water and harvest to reduce risks, if water quality is a concern Treating water is an option to reduce risks Keep copies of all water test results Document all water management practices 41 Module 5: Part 2 Postharvest Water Learning Objectives Understand the required quality of water for
harvest and postharvest activities Identify ways water may become contaminated Describe cross-contamination and infiltration Understand the purpose of using antimicrobial products, including sanitizers Describe practices to maintain and monitor the quality of water used in postharvest activities Identify records needed to properly document and monitor water quality Describe corrective actions to use if postharvest water is outside microbial criteria 43 Why Focus On Postharvest Water? Cannot eliminate every food safety risk in the field Postharvest water has the potential to spread
contamination widely 44 Many Postharvest Water Uses Rinsing/washing Commodity movement (i.e., dump tanks/flumes) Cooling
Ice making Postharvest fungicide and wax Handwashing Cleaning and sanitizing 45 Postharvest Water Management Water Must know initial quality and intended use How water interacts with a treatment, if used Antimicrobial products, including sanitizers Adding a sanitizer to water is NOT intended to wash the product, but instead to prevent cross-contamination Must be labeled for intended use, such as in water or for contact with fruits and vegetables
Many sanitizers available, including organic options 46 Cross-Contamination Pathogens may be introduced by other produce, nonproduce material in or on harvest containers, water, food contact surfaces, or other sources Anything that comes in contact with produce could result in cross-contamination including:
Workers hands Worker clothing Produce containers Packing tables, conveyor belts Water Tools 47 Water Quality Criterion for Harvest and Postharvest Activities Water used for the following must have no detectable generic E. coli per 100 mL sample Direct contact with covered produce during or after harvest
Direct contact with food contact surfaces To make ice For handwashing Untreated surface water may not be used for these purposes 48 What is Required for Testing Untreated Ground Water and Public Water Supply Sources Used for Postharvest Uses? Source Testing Requirements
Untreated Ground Water 4 or more times during the growing season or over the period of a year 1 or more tests per year after initial year Copy of test results or current certificates of compliance Public Water Supply 49
Single Pass Water Must not have detectable generic E. coli in 100 mL sample Produce Safety Rule does not require water treatment Antimicrobial products, such as sanitizers, can be added as a commonly recommended Good Agricultural Practice May reduce the buildup of microorganisms (biofilms) in equipment and on food contact surfaces 50 Recirculated and Batch Water Must have no detectable generic E. coli in 100 mL sample at the beginning of use and maintain safe and adequate sanitary quality throughout use Treatment is not required but can be used to maintain
water quality and reduce cross-contamination risks Any antimicrobial product used in the water must be labeled for use with fruits and vegetables A schedule must be established for changing batch water or a process in place for minimizing the build-up of organic material in the water 51 Key Water Quality Variables Quality at start of use No detectable generic E.coli in 100 mL of sample pH
Can impact the effectiveness of antimicrobial treatments Temperature Must be monitored to minimize potential for infiltration Turbidity Can be used to manage water change schedule 52 Monitoring pH Water pH can affect the efficacy of sanitizers, especially chlorine There are many ways to monitor pH e.g., pH test strips, handheld pH meters, and titration kits
Adding chlorine and other sanitizers may change the pH of water You must monitor treatment You should adjust pH as needed based on the optimal pH range for effective use of your sanitizer 53 Temperature Temperature differences between produce and bulk tank water may cause infiltration If bulk tank (postharvest) water is contaminated, pathogens can enter the produce with infiltrating water, resulting in a food safety risk Temperature must be monitored to minimize potential infiltration risk
Temperature can also affect the efficacy of the antimicrobial products, including sanitizers If postharvest water temperature is too high and pH is too low, toxic chlorine may gas off and become a health hazard for workers 54 Background on Infiltration Risk for Susceptible Produce Infiltration can increase with deeper submersion and longer contact time Wounded or bruised fruit can have a greater risk of infiltration
Infiltration risks can be higher when the produce is warmer than the tank water Photo shows colored dye from water moving into produce pulp due to infiltration. 55 Turbidity Turbidity can be used as an indication of when you should change your water Monitor your water and change when your set limit
you reach Methods to monitor turbidity Turbidity meter, Secchi disk method Turbid water may reduce treatment effectiveness Need to add more sanitizer to maintain effectiveness Turbidity can affect accuracy of sanitizer and pH readings 56 When Should I Change My Water? Post-harvest water must be managed, including changing water when necessary Water changing schedules should consider:
Organic load (soil, leaves, decaying or damaged product) Turbidity measurements Volume of produce Type of produce Product flow and operating conditions Type of antimicrobial product Type of equipment
57 Disposal of Used Water Waste water from produce washing or cooling must be disposed of properly so that it does not serve as a source of contamination to covered produce and fields used to grow covered produce Handwashing stations should have catch basins if not connected to a drain Check state, local and EPA regulations on discharging water into sewers, leach fields, and/or surface waters 58
Choosing an Antimicrobial Product, Including Sanitizers Chlorine sanitizers are commonly used Affordable and available Corrosive, highly reactive Many non-chlorine chemical options Ozone, peroxyacetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Organic formulations are available Tsunami, Spectrum, Sanidate, VigorOx 15 F&V, etc. Check with organic certifier Must be labeled for use on produce
59 Follow the Label! Always read and follow label instructions You must use the product only as labeled Direct contact with produce vs. food contact surface You should use the correct amount of antimicrobial product (in ppm or other measurement) Understand factors that affect efficacy Temperature, pH, sunlight, and how it is affected by organic load 60 Monitoring Antimicrobial Treatments
Including Sanitizer Levels Each sanitizer will have specific ways to monitor its levels Use the right monitoring tools May be automated or manual Any water treatment, including use of sanitizer, must be monitored during treatment Check with the supplier if you have any questions Monitoring can include tools such as OxidationReduction Potential (ORP) sensors 61 Examples of SOPs for Postharvest Water Management
Monitoring and adding antimicrobial product Monitoring and modifying pH Monitoring water and pulp temperatures Monitoring turbidity and changing/adding water Calibrating thermometers and sensors 63 Examples of When Corrective Actions Are Needed Monitoring indicates that water sanitation procedures are not working Antimicrobial treatment is below the effective level Sanitizer inventory is used faster than expected
pH readings are not in correct range Workers report a problem Monitoring and recordkeeping sheets are not correct 64 Recordkeeping Helps document all water management activities Water quality tests, antimicrobial product use, monitoring, and corrective actions Allows management to see that monitoring practices are being completed and working properly Monitoring sanitizer levels, pH, turbidity, water changes, etc.
Identifies patterns/trends to determine the best practices OR when problems tend to arise 65 Summary Postharvest water management can help prevent a small contamination event from becoming a BIG one For harvest and postharvest uses, use only water that has no detectable generic E. coli in 100 mL water sample Consider adding a sanitizer to postharvest water Develop SOPs for key water management steps Monitor key variables of both the water and any sanitizer used to ensure postharvest water quality Take corrective actions when needed
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