FOOD SAFETY HAZARDS RELATED TO FISH PRODUCED IN AQUAPONICS
D. Ljubojević1*, M. Pelić1, V. Radosavljević2 and M. Ćirković1
1Scientic Veterinary Institute “Novi Sad”, Rumenački put 20, 21000 Novi Sad (Republic of Serbia),
2Department of sh diseases, Institute of Veterinary Medicine of Serbia, Vojvode Toze 4, 11000 Belgrade (Republic
Aquaponics systems have become increasingly popular today. It connects recirculating aquaculture with hydroponics to
use nutrient waste from sh production as an input to plant production (Radosavljević et al., 2014). It is a relatively new
idea about the use of same water in order to growth sh and plants in a single system. Aquaponics can provide both sh
as a source of animal protein and fresh vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs as a source of minerals and vitamins to
populations where water or fertilizer resources are limited (Kotzen and Appelbaum, 2010) with a minimum of environmental
contamination. The main principals of aquaponics are the use waste plant and animal material for sh nutrition, which sh
convert into protein. Then, the waste from sh is used by plants as a source of nutrients and the water recirculate back to
the sh tank (Rakocy et al., 2006). Undoubtedly, this technique has many potential benets. It is designated as enclosed
recirculating integrated system so possess lower environmental impact in comparison with conventional agricultural
systems. Lennard (2006) showed that nitrate accumulation was reduced by 97% in aquaponics in comparison to common
recirculating aquaculture systems. Also, the amount of water is small in comparison with regular systems for sh and plant
production and about 98% of water is recycled in aquaponic systems (Al-Hafedh et al., 2008). Aquaponics also enables sh
and plants to be reared together in relatively small amount of space. On the other hand, it should have in mind that there are
not enough scientic data regarding best practice for aquaponics in order to ensure food safety. Such data will be useful as
a base of regulations and recommendations for aquaponics production. This paper will summarize currently available food
safety data and discuss potential food safety risks that may be associated with aquaponics.
Food Safety Risks In Aquaponics
Foodborne transmission of pathogenic microorganisms from contaminated food has been recognized as an important
hazard for human health in the past few decades and pathogenic strains of aquatic bacteria have long been considered as
serious zoonotic hazards. Without exception, food safety risks are present in integrated food production systems including
aquaponics. Additional problem is the fact that many of these risks are still unknown or are not enough researched. There
is still little knowledge about foodborne diseases in aquaponics. Proximity of sh culture water to edible plant culture
represents a specic concern in aquaponics. Fish is generally not regards as a food safety threat in aquaponics but potential
for survival and growth of potential pathogenic microorganisms is unknown so the evaluation of this assumption is necessary.
Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, Vibrio spp., Aeromonas spp., Streptococcus
spp., Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Shigella spp., Campylobacter spp., Pleisomonal shigelloides, Edwardsiella tarda,
Cryptosporidium and other could be potential food safety microbiological threats in aquaponics (Ljubojević et al., 2016).
Pathogens can be introduced to sh as nal products by hands or direct water contact. From the point of food safety it
should emphasized that water can be a source of many pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella spp., Vibrio cholera,
Shigella spp. Besides that, parasites such as Cryptosporidium, Girdia lamblia and also viruses so the origin of water used in
aquaponics is very important for the safety of nal products, both sh and plants. Contamination with some of the mentioned
microorganisms can lead to foodborne diseases in humans. Furthermore feed intended for sh could be a source of bacterial
pathogens, micotoxins or veterinary drugs. Furthermore, there is very little or no data regarding efcacy of current control
measures to prevent the presence of foodborne pathogens in aquaponics. Small aquaponics settings in urban areas can also
be owned by non-prot oganisations or small size enterprises that do not inevitably have the knowledge regarding food
safety issues. The need for guidance with regards to hazard analysis, implementation of preventive measures and regulatory
compliance is indubitable. There is also need to point toward the present difculty in the aquacuponics management and to
show the possible ecological and economical impacts.
Risk Management Systems
Aquaponics systems are commonly in vicinity of humans and that can be a serious concern for public health. Food safety
begins on the farm or in this case, in aquaponic systems. New methods are developed in order to detect infection or
contamination in sh, plants and their environment. Various biosecurity measures that prevent transfer of pathogens among
sh and environment may be implemented. Sometimes the absence of clinical symptoms does not mean the absence
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of pathogens and it should have in mind that such carriers could help in amplications of microorganisms. In the most
cases, producers are not aware that such microorganisms could be present in aquaponic systems. Producers should be
encouraged to implement preventive and control measures and risk management systems in order to prevent the occurrence
of pathogens in aquaponic systems. Good agricultural practice, good hygiene practice, good management practices and
management of wastes, feed, water and potential vectors are some of the current strategies.
Because sh meat can be potential reservoir of food borne pathogens, the necessity for education of people regarding
good hygienic practices should be highlighted. Education of food handlers is also signicant in order to decrease the
potential risk regarding food borne diseases. Moreover, the education of owners of aquaponic systems, veterinarians,
public, and health practitioners is very important. Monitoring and recording of occurrence should be the main operations
in the upcoming years which should moot questions of how to make better and put into actions the established directives.
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