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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #426862

Research Project: Mechanisms of Pathogen Contamination of Organic Leafy Greens at the Farm Level and Interventions to Control Pathogens during Processing

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-006-55-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2014
End Date: Jul 31, 2019

Conduct field studies to (1) determine the effect of cover crop rotation (green manure) on persistence of enteric pathogens (surrogate strains) in soil; (2) investigate the role of organic produce cultivar on persistence of enteric pathogen (surrogate strain) on foliar tissues; and (3) evaluate natural antimicrobials as alternative post-harvest interventions for controlling enteric pathogens on organic produce.

An ongoing study on glucosinolate content of Brassica family plants and its antimicrobial effect on surrogate pathogens will be continued at the farm scale using organic farming practices. Cultivars of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables will be grown and following harvest, plant remnants will be tilled into the soil as a green manure. Soil inoculated with non-pathogenic surrogate bacteria will be analyzed to determine efficacy of disinfection. Non-pathogenic surrogate strains will be spray-inoculated onto different cultivars of organic leafy greens during irrigation. The role of leaf structure, leaf roughness, and surface appendages of bacterial strains on bacterial persistence will be investigated. Natural antimicrobials, including extracts of essential oils and plant extracts, will be evaluated as a produce-wash for their antimicrobial activities against enteric pathogens on organic fresh produce. The sensory quality of produce treated with natural antimicrobials will be evaluated.