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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #436508

Research Project: Mechanisms of Introduction and Persistence of Enteric Pathogens on Fresh Produce at the Farm Level and Their Intervention Strategies

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-009-011-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2019
End Date: Jun 30, 2022

Objective:
To (1) monitor spatial patterns of E. coli and pathogen populations in water and sediments in surface water used for irrigation, (2) develop mathematical modeling to predict microbial load on irrigation water, (3) evaluate the role of composting process on survival of enteric pathogens (surrogate strains) in compost, (4) determine the effect of reclaimed water on microbial safety of fresh produce grown in alternative farming practices, and (5) evaluate novel pre-harvest interventions for controlling enteric pathogens on fresh produce.

Approach:
An ongoing study on monitoring bacterial populations in water will be expanded for sediments to collect data on E. coli and enteric pathogen populations in creek water used for irrigation. Input of microbial load from neighboring farm and residential area to creek water will be surveyed. Results will be used to develop mathematical model that predicts bacterial populations in creek water used for irrigation. Composting process with different raw material including food waste will be evaluated for potential survival of surrogate strains. The role of leaf characteristics of organic leafy green cultivars on persistence of bacterial surrogate strains will be investigated. Roof-harvest rain water and primary/secondary-treated waste water will be used for irrigation of fresh produce grown in high tunnel. Novel antimicrobials will be evaluated to control bacterial populations on fresh produce at the farm level.