Jan. 1, 2011 - Dec. 31, 2011Award Number
IDS (Intertox Decision Sciences)
The purpose of this proposed research project is to determine the occurrence of microbial pathogens on fresh market apples and identify practices industry participants are using to mitigate these pathogens. Intertox will work closely with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and its partners to identify available datasets of microbial pathogen levels, ensuring the confidentiality of any private data, and to develop datasets if needed. Data will be evaluated for their quality and relevance, and compiled into a database. Once complete, this dataset will be used to derive statistics on baseline microbial populations. Finally, the effectiveness of mitigation practices on reducing pathogen levels will be examined.
The objective of the proposed research project is to identify pathogens of concern for fresh market apples, determine their occurrence patterns and then research and document health-protective practices already in place. The project will cover fresh market apples starting at the packinghouse and continuing through storage and transportation.
Intertox will work closely with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) and their partners to identify available datasets of microbial pathogen levels on fresh market apples and to ensure the confidentiality of any private data. Data will be evaluated for quality and relevance and will be compiled into a new database. Upon completion, this dataset will be used to derive statistics on baseline microbial levels. Depending on data availability, Intertox will analyze the data for patterns and trends (e.g. seasonal variations, production practices, proximity to sources, etc.). If limited data is available, Intertox will work with the WTFRC and others to collect information through surveys and other sources.
After completing the dataset, Intertox proposes examining and documenting current mitigation practices. The fact that there have been no incidences of foodborne illness related to fresh market apples supports the premise that current good agricultural and handling practices used in the fresh market apple industry are highly effective in mitigating microbial contamination risk. Intertox would like to verify this assumption by examining and documenting current mitigation practices and their ability to reduce the potential for microbial contamination. Project results will be presented to stakeholders at industry meetings as requested by the WTFRC.