Title : Impact of educational actions and social technologies on the quality of water used by family farmers in food processing
We carried out a three-step intervention study, whose objective was to evaluate the impact of educational actions and social technologies on the quality of water used in food processing. Family farmers and solidarity economy entrepreneurs from thirteen small agribusinesses that processed food manually and sold it in family farming fairs in the Zona da Mata of Minas Gerais participated in the study. The project was approved by Federal University of Viçosa’s Ethics Committee (Process nº 3,113,696). In the diagnostic stage, we performed microbiological analysis, with qualitative tests of total coliforms and Escherichia coli in water, according to the SMEWW 9221 D method, whose evaluation is the presence or absence in 100 mL. For the standard count of Heterotrophic Bacteria, we used the APHA 08:2015 method, in which the maximum value allowed is 5.0x10² CFU/mL - Colony Forming Unit per Milliliter. The chemical analysis of free residual chlorine was based on the SMEWW. 21 2005 - 4500 Cl G method, where the values can vary from 0.2 mg/L to 2 mg/L. Water samples were collected from the taps of the places where the food was processed, following all the technical recommendations to avoid any type of contamination. The faucets were sanitized with a 70% ethanol solution and flamed when the material was fire resistant. Then, we left them fully open, so that the water could flow for 2 to 3 minutes, cleaning the pipes. To collect the sample without splashing out of the sterile container, the flow was reduced. The samples contained 300 mL and were placed in thermal boxes at a temperature between 2 and 10 degrees Celsius for immediate transport to the analysis site. After the diagnosis, we carried out educational activities, organized in participatory and collective workshops in which we addressed issues related to water quality and health, and the use of social technologies to improve water quality, with the construction of a low-cost chlorinator. The reassessment was carried out 60 days after the end of the educational activities, through new water analyses. Of the thirteen enterprises evaluated, 76.92% (n=10) used water from artesian or semi-artesian wells to process food. In 69.24% (n=09) of them, there was not any type of water treatment, and 84.61% (n=11) had never done or had not cleaned the water tank for over a year. In 69.24% (n=9), the microbiological quality of the water was inadequate, with the presence of one or more microorganisms that indicated fecal contamination or excess of organic matter. After the educational actions, changes in attitude were reported in relation to water care in 12 enterprises, such as cleaning the water tank, using filters, and adhering to social technologies. When repeating the microbiological analysis of the water, we observed that the quality was satisfactory in 76.9% (n=10) of the projects. Among those who did not undergo water treatment, 55.6% (n=5) adhered to the low-cost chlorinator. As for the chemical analysis of residual chlorine in the water, we observed that 61.53% (n=8) of the projects reached the appropriate concentration – between 0.2 and 2 mg/L. Statistical analysis showed that there was a difference in free residual chlorine before (T1) and after (T2) the educational actions (p=0.012). The educational actions and the incentive to social technologies had satisfactory results in relation to the chemical and microbiological quality of the water used in the food processing, which contributed to the hygienic-sanitary conditions adopted by the handlers during the food processing stages, without risks to consumers’ health. Furthermore, these technologies were configured as low-cost and effective alternatives for the awareness and commitment of the public studied.