This project relates to ensuring food safety. In the past five years a wealth of research has been published on the interaction of foodborne pathogens with plant tissue, but many pieces of the puzzle remain missing. The lack of knowledge of foodborne pathogen-plant interaction hinders the development of effective strategies to reduce or eliminate foodborne pathogen contamination of leafy greens and other fresh fruits and vegetables. Sanitizers and sanitizing practices presently employed commercially to reduce microbial numbers on fresh fruits and vegetables post-harvest are not adequate. Under the conditions studied, no sanitizer has been able to produce more than a 1-2 log10 CFU reduction in pathogen levels. This was the situation >5 years ago and remains true today. Crops in the field may be exposed to contaminated irrigation water, manure, contact with feral animals, and workers hands during harvest. Individually or collectively such exposure can result in contamination of the commodity with microorganisms that are detrimental to human health. Implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP?s) on the farm and use of Good Management Practices (GMP?S) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs post-harvest are positive steps in controlling contamination of raw agricultural products, but outbreaks associated with the consumption of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables continue to occur. The increase in foodborne illness associated with the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has been attributed to increased consumption of fresh produce, changes in agronomic practices, and increased importation. Tomatoes, seed sprouts, lettuce, and cantaloupes have repeatedly been implicated as vehicles of human salmonellosis and E. coli O157:H7 infection. There exist a real and immediate need to address foodborne-pathogen plant interaction to move forward in the development and initiation of strategies that will enhance the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
|Effective start/end date||10/1/10 → 9/30/15|
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))