Challenge for producers and distributors of fruits and vegetables

Producers and distrib­u­tors of fruits and vegeta­bles face several chal­lenges to bring safe and high-quality prod­ucts to market.

Storage & Temperature

In order to be able to offer prod­ucts such as apples and carrots regard­less of the season, producers and distrib­u­tors often store them. To main­tain fresh­ness and quality, certain storage condi­tions such as the right temper­a­ture and humidity must be ensured. Improper storage condi­tions can lead to rotting fruits and vegeta­bles or to loss of flavor and quality.

Pest infes­ta­tion

A major chal­lenge with fruits and vegeta­bles is also pest infes­ta­tion. Pests such as mites, cater­pil­lars and aphids can cause damage to fruits and vegeta­bles, as well as transmit diseases. There­fore, measures are taken to control them, which often include chem­ical agents such as insec­ti­cides. Insec­ti­cides (as well as biocides, herbi­cides and fungi­cides). The appli­ca­tion as well as the maximum residue levels of pesti­cides are precisely regu­lated in numerous EU regu­la­tions. For example, the maximum residue levels spec­i­fied by the EU may not be exceeded on fruit and vegeta­bles. According to EU organic regu­la­tions, no synthetic chem­ical pesti­cides may be used on organic fruit and vegeta­bles. However, certain plant, animal, micro­bial or mineral pesti­cides may be used.

Nutri­ents & vitamin content

Another impor­tant consid­er­a­tion with fruits and vegeta­bles is nutrient and vitamin content. If the intake is too low, people will suffer from defi­ciency symp­toms. But the exact values for nutrient and vitamin content depend on certain factors such as climate, origin, soil, fertil­iza­tion and sunlight. A regular exam­i­na­tion of the contents shows whether, for example, fertil­iza­tion needs to be adjusted or the loca­tion is opti­mally chosen.

Among the partic­u­larly chal­lenging fruit and vegetable vari­eties are:

  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Mango
  • Lettuce
  • Toma­toes
  • Cucum­bers
  • Pota­toes
  • Peppers

Necessary tests for the analysis of fruit and vegetables

Residues and Contamination

Residue analysis is an impor­tant part of routine self-moni­toring for fruits and vegeta­bles. Produce must be tested regu­larly for residues of pesti­cides, which are commonly used in agri­cul­ture to kill pests or weeds. The maximum levels for pesti­cide residues on fruit and vegeta­bles are regu­lated in Regu­la­tion (EC) No. 396/2005. If the maximum levels are exceeded, the prod­ucts are not consid­ered marketable and consumer protec­tion is not guaranteed.

Further­more, the prod­ucts must be tested for pollu­tants such as phos­phorus and nitrogen, which can enter fruit and vegeta­bles using fertilizers.

Chlo­rate and perchlo­rate are used to disin­fect water and can remain as residues, for example, from washing fruits and vegeta­bles. Regular intake of these substances poses a health risk, so binding maximum levels apply in the EU. The maximum levels for chlo­rate can be found in Regu­la­tion (EU) 2020/749 and the maximum levels for perchlo­rate can be found in Regu­la­tion (EU) 2020/685.

Cont­a­m­i­nants also play a key role in the assess­ment of consumer protec­tion for fruit and vegeta­bles. For example, fumon­isins are commonly found in corn and patulin in apples. The exam­i­na­tion of certain endan­gered prod­ucts for myco­toxins is a central point of analysis with regard to safe marketing.

Heavy metals, for example, enter the envi­ron­ment through indus­trial processes and can accu­mu­late in plants. For example, cadmium is found partic­u­larly frequently in mush­rooms and lead in leafy vegeta­bles. Regu­la­tion (EC) No. 1881/2006 sets maximum levels for heavy metals in fruit and vegeta­bles. It also sets maximum levels for other cont­a­m­i­nants such as myco­toxins, dioxins and PCBs and PAHs.

Micro­bi­o­log­ical Contamination

Micro­bi­o­log­ical cont­a­m­i­na­tion can cause serious illness in consumers and should be taken into account in self-moni­toring. In addi­tion, certain microor­gan­isms affect the quality of fruits and vegeta­bles as they can lead to spoilage.

Salmo­nella, shigella and E.coli, for example, get onto fruits and vegeta­bles through fertil­izing or washing with water cont­a­m­i­nated with fecal matter.

Molds are among the most common spoilage pathogens in fruits. Cont­a­m­i­na­tion can occur, for example, through dead plant parts or through the soil, and certain storage condi­tions favor growth and can lead to rot and spoilage.

Regular micro­bi­o­log­ical testing can provide qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive infor­ma­tion on the micro­bi­o­log­ical status of the prod­ucts and thus on quality and safety.

If fruits and vegeta­bles are further processed (e.g. chopped), there is a risk of microor­gan­isms entering the prod­ucts during the processing steps. There­fore, cleaning and disin­fec­tion steps must be regu­larly checked for their effec­tive­ness. Here, the labo­ra­to­ries of the Tentamus Group support you with training courses, audits and inspec­tion of surfaces.

Sample Logistics

Tentamus Group labo­ra­to­ries have effi­cient sample logis­tics to provide you with results as quickly as possible. We offer sampling by qual­i­fied samplers of the accred­ited labo­ra­to­ries, as well as easy sample collec­tion at your site.

Espe­cially for micro­bi­o­log­ical analysis, correct sampling is of great importance.

Simply contact us to arrange an appoint­ment and our compe­tent logis­tics team will take care of the rest.

Get in touch with us!
We are happy to advise you:
+49 30 206 038 395

Relevant legal bases and directives

Are you inter­ested in our services for the analysis of fruit and vegetables?
Get in touch with our team:
+49 30 206 038 230

Overview of
laboratories offering analysis of fruit and vegetables

The following labo­ra­to­ries from the Tentamus Group offer analyses of fruits and vegetables:

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