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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345689

Research Project: Development and Validation of Innovative Food Processing Interventions

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research

Title: Salmonella enterica contamination of market fresh tomatoes: a review

item Gurtler, Joshua
item Harlee, Nia
item SMELSER, AMANDA - Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
item SCHNEIDER, KEITH - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2018
Publication Date: 6/25/2018
Citation: Gurtler, J., Harlee, N.A., Smelser, A.M., Schneider, K.R. 2018. Salmonella enterica contamination of market fresh tomatoes: a review. Journal of Food Protection. Volume 81, No.7, Pages 1193-1213.

Interpretive Summary: Foodborne illnesses associated with market fresh tomatoes has proven problematic in recent years. Scientists are studying ways of determining the source and survival of the bacterium on and in tomatoes and in related areas, where tomatoes may become contaminated. Foodborne outbreaks and tomato recalls have cost the tomato industry millions of dollars. Epidemiologists continue to work to trace illnesses back to the original source of production and/or contaminating event that affected the tomatoes. Methods have also been sought to prevent cross-contamination of Salmonella in tomato wash waters. Overall, scientists, and agriculturalists are working together to solve unanswered questions related to Salmonella and tomatoes and prevent future illness outbreaks.

Technical Abstract: Salmonella contamination associated with market fresh tomatoes continues to be problematic for the industry and consumer. A number of high-profile outbreaks have occurred and dollar losses for the industry, including indirect collateral impact to agriculturally-connected communities, have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This review will cover these issues as well as an array of problems and potential solutions surrounding Salmonella contamination in tomatoes. Some other areas discussed include (1) Case control studies and DNA-fingerprinting have helped in identifying sources of contamination, (2) predeliction for contamination based on Salmonella serovar and tomato cultivar, (3) the internalization, survival and growth of Salmonella in or on tomatoes, the tomato plant, in biofilms or niches ancillary to tomato production and processing, (4) the prevalence of Salmonella in tomatoes, endogenous regions and potential sources of contamination, (5) effective and experimental means of chemically and/or physically decontaminating Salmonella from the surface and stem scar regions of the tomato. Future research should be directed in many of the areas discussed in this review, most importantly, determining and eliminating sources of contamination, targeting endemic regions where contamination is most likely known to occur. Multidisciplinary efforts by agriculturalists, horticulturalists, microbiologists, and epidemiologists may collaboratively make the largest impact in working together to solve other unanswered questions regarding tomatoes and Salmonella contamination.