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An Evaluation of Microbial Health Risks to Livestock Fed with Wastewater-Irrigated Forage Crops



This paper presents the results of five experiments in which animal health risks associated with the consumption of crops irrigated with domestic wastewater were evaluated. Forage maize and Tanner grass were irrigated with treated wastewater and used in goats and calves feeding trials. The irrigated crops presented high levels of surface contamination with E. coli (104–107 25 g−1) and salmonellae (up to 1.6 × 104 25 g−1), but none of the animals showed signs of infection or of disease. Further, the microbiological quality of animal products always complied with the Brazilian and European Union standards for food safety. It is suggested that the WHO guideline values for restricted irrigation (≤104 E. coli 100 ml−1 and ≤1 helminth egg l−1), which were developed to protect the health of agricultural field workers, would be equally protective of the health of both animals fed with wastewater-irrigated crops and humans consuming products from such animals.