A farm-to-fork analysis of vegetables microbiological risks at Estarreja municipality: setting up a monitoring program for household farms
Marta Tacão
Isabel Henriques, UC; Carla Patinha, UA
Project type
Projet OHM
OHM(s) involved
  • OHMI Estarreja
Biogéochimie, Biologie, Santé publique
Microbiological contamination in domestic productions represents a high danger for consumers’ health since there is no quality control. What is produced goes from farm to fork, with higher risks associated with produce usually eaten raw. As consequence of the industrialization for the last 50 years, Estarreja area became one of the most polluted in Portugal. Hence, the putative contamination of soil and water may question food security of vegetables grown in this region.
In a previous project our team examined vegetables and irrigation water from domestic farms in Estarreja. The microbiological quality and the presence of different contaminants were examined. Results showed that in fact in some farms, irrigation water and leafy greens were contaminated with metals and antibiotic resistant bacteria, with some strains identified as putative human pathogens.
Hence, we propose a follow-up project, ten years apart, to perform a farm-to-fork chain analysis of the Estarreja municipality domestic farms. Considering that fresh produce may be contaminated at any point, we will determine the level of chemical and microbiological contamination of soils, irrigation water and vegetables, but also we will examine farmers hands and tools surfaces. Putative pathogenic strains will be characterized in detail to identify possible health-risk traits. We will register information regarding the farm setting and agricultural practices, as for example irrigation water origin, use of fertilizers and the harvest procedures. We will provide guidance for good agricultural and hygiene practices to minimize microbiological threats, and ultimately, we will propose a monitoring program for household farms.


Marta Tacão
Marta Tacão is a Researcher Assistant at the Biology Department (Microbiology Laboratory, microlab) and the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, hired under the Scientific Employment Stimulus (CEEC 2020) since 2021. Since 2014, she holds a PhD in Biology (specialization in microbiology), from the University of Aveiro, Portugal. She has participated in several projects hired under their scope or as team member, financed by FCT (7), LAbex DRIIHM (2), and European commission (2). Currently she is the PI at UA of a FCT-funded project. Co-authored 36 papers in Web of Science (WoS) journals, with average citations per paper 20.00 and h-index is 14 (WoS, December 2021) and presented over 40 communications in international and national meetings. She supervises/co-supervises 4 PhD, 3 Msc and 1 final project students, and has supervised 10 Msc and 7 final projects. Her research has been focused on understanding the role and impact of human activities in the dispersion of clinically relevant bacteria and antibiotic resistance in environmental settings, identification of the routes of dissemination and impact of contaminants.



Isabel Henriques is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, where she is the director of the PhD programme in Biosciences. She is a Microbiologist, member of the Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), where she leads the “Microbial and Cell Biology Lab”. She earned her PhD in Biology in 2006 from the University of Aveiro. She was an Assistant Researcher at University of Aveiro (2013-2018) funded by the “FCT Investigator” program and acted as Special Visiting Researcher (2013-2016) at Federal University of Pará (Brazil) financed by the Brazilian government. Her research has been oriented to address the ecology of antibiotic resistance in the environment. She has been interested in the mechanisms of transfer and evolution of antibiotic resistance, and how environmental and anthropogenic factors affect these mechanisms. A main interest has also been the impact of global changes in the microbiome (including soil and water...
C. Patinha graduated in Geological Engineering by the University of Aveiro (UA) in 1994, completed the M.Sc. degree in Geochemistry by UA in 1997, and completed her PhD degree in Geosciences by the UA in 2002.
In June of 2001 began her activities at Geosciences Department of the University of Aveiro as technician, assuming the management of geochemistry and hydrochemistry laboratories. Since October 2018 she is Assistant Professor at Geosciences Department of University of Aveiro and Director of the Masters in Geological Engineering. She is researcher of GEOBIOTEC research unit. Since obtaining her PhD degree published 79 papers in international peer review journals, and published about 100 papers in National and International Conferences Proceedings. C Patinha has been participating and coordinating several national and international R&D Projects. She supervised several master thesis and graduation projects. She was member of several Organizing Committee of International...