Oct. 1, 2010 - Sep. 30, 2012Award Number
Center for Produce SafetyInvestigator
Steven Pao, Ph.D.
Virginia State University
Ren, S., and Westbrook, E.Summary
Fruits and vegetables are susceptible to natural contamination from soil, insects, birds, water, and other sources during growth and harvest. Although most environmental microbes found on raw produce are considered benign, contamination with spoilage microorganisms and human pathogens presents a persistent challenge to the fresh produce industry. Inadequate produce packing, processing, or sanitation can result in further spread of undesirable microorganisms, leading to serious cross-contamination, product damage and/or foodbrone illness outbreaks. Contaminated produce items have caused several large outbreaks of human salmonellosis over the past few years. These outbreaks and related investigation reports suggest persistent field contamination. Further efforts are needed to prevent and reduce produce contamination on farms and throughout the food supply chain. Some produce sanitizing technologies (such as treatments with ozone, chlorine dioxide, bacteriophage, etc.) have been developed recently with claims of effective pathogen reduction. Additional research is needed, however, to validate and/or enhance the efficacy of these technologies to assure produce food safety.