Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #432989

Research Project: Characterization and Mitigation of Bacterial Pathogens in the Fresh Produce Production and Processing Continuum

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-006-08-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 21, 2017
End Date: Aug 20, 2019

Objective:
1) Investigate the population dynamics of foodborne pathogens and non-pathogenic bacteria on fresh produce as impacted by different washing processes and storage conditions. 2) Understand the role of multispecies biofilm formation in the survival and persistence of the foodborne pathogens.

Approach:
Commercial processing of leafy green produce will be simulated in our pilot plant using raw materials inoculated with foodborne pathogens (Enterohemorrhagic E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes). Modification to the washing parameters as stated in NIFA grant proposal, including single pass non-submerssive washing technology, will be assessed by analyzing the population changes in the native microbiota and the inoculated pathogens before and after the treatments, as well as after subjecting the washed products to compliant and abusive storage conditions. Bacterial enumeration on the products and in wash water will be achieved by selective plating, qPCR, and community analyses using metagenomics. Biofilms in the processing environments will be allowed to form in the presence and absence of foodborne pathogens, and strong biofilm producing microbiota will be isolated and identified, and their potential interactions with foodborne pathogens characterized using buol-species biofilm models.