Unsafe agricultural and handling practices abound, and gaps in hygiene monitoring leave fruits and vegetables still laced with contamination by the time they reach the plate. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Scientists and researchers say that fruits and vegetables grown in Lebanon have excessive rates of pesticides, fertilizers and raw sewage irrigation. Unsafe agricultural and handling practices abound, and gaps in hygiene monitoring leave fruits and vegetables still laced with contamination by the time they reach the plate. Conducting research partially funded by Lebanon's National Council for Scientific Research, she has found hygiene measures to be deficient at all stages of production, and said they include "the use of unsanitary harvesting [of produce] and handling equipment, water, inadequate hand-washing and improper fertilizers".In case studies not yet published, tracing the hygienic practices of 10 leading growers of leafy vegetables, she showed a lack of safety mechanisms along all aspects of the supply chain, as well as high levels of fecal contamination in the vegetables of Bekaa Valley-based farmers. Contamination comes from microbiological E. coli and chemical sources, such as fertilizers.Leafy vegetables such as these, eaten raw, are particularly vulnerable to contamination.Knowledge of foodborne illnesses is lacking in Lebanon, Tabbara said,"there is no system in place for identifying, tracing and reporting outbreaks or long-term monitoring of possible illnesses due to food or water poisoning".He added that it is more difficult to identify the source of contamination in vegetables, versus meat.
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