Jan. 1, 2012 - Dec. 31, 2012Award Number
Trevor Suslow, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
The proposed research seeks to significantly narrow the knowledge gaps in food safety management of a very popular and widely used culinary herb, cilantro. The problem facing growers, foodservice and retail marketers, and public health officials is primarily the high detection prevalence of Salmonella on cilantro in produce surveys. Multistate outbreaks and multiple costly recalls have elevated these concerns over the past five years, in particular. Field-based research with non-pathogenic forms of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 will be conducted in California to determine the survival, growth potential, and postharvest removal efficiencies following simulated foliar contact contamination events during production. While the interactions between Salmonella and cilantro in laboratory studies have clearly shown that pathogen growth is likely at non-refrigerated temperatures, especially following dicing for foods such as salsas, our understanding of risk potential in more ‘real-world’ production conditions is largely absent. We anticipate that the outcomes of our research will foster the development and adoption of Best Practices in food safety management among cilantro growers and processors. This knowledge will be largely transferrable to other leafy culinary herbs including parsley and basil.