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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MICROBIAL ECOLOGY AND SAFETY OF FRESH PRODUCE

Location: Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory

Title: Pathogen risk associated with farming practices

Author
item Sharma, Manan

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 7, 2011
Publication Date: November 7, 2011
Citation: Sharma, M. 2011. Pathogen risk associated with farming practices. [abstract].

Technical Abstract: Outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 associated with the consumption of leafy greens has focused attention on routes of contamination of these commodities with bacterial foodborne pathogens. A summary of research activities at the Environmental Micorbial and Food Safety Laboratory have evaluated mechanisms of contamination of produce commodities. Research has indicated that uptake and internalization of E. coli O157 into spinach plants is not a likely route of contamination. E. coli O157:H7 does not persist on foliar surfaces at high level, or at higher populations than non-pathogenic E. coli. Furthermore, repeated foliar application of irrigation water contaminated with low levels of E. coli O157:H7 (complying with the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement) did not increase the probability of survival of the pathogen. Finished, point of sale compost can contain low levels of fecal coliforms and Salmonella; ingredient used in compost teas can encourage the growth of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. Zero-valent iron biosand filters have been used in small-scale field trial experiments to reduced E. coli levels in contaminated irrigation water and on foliar surfaces of spinach plants after irrigation.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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