Chill those veggies, and bugs in the soil

On the more serious side of microbiology, “People don’t pay enough attention to refrigeration, and that’s absolutely critical with the fresh-cut produce,” food microbiologist Linda Harris tells USA Today in a follow-up article on spinach contamination with E. coli 0157.

The story also reports that in 2001, Harris and colleagues found that another food-poisoning culprit, Salmonella, could survive and thrive in the soil of almond orchards. The bug was previously thought to live only a few days outside an animal’s gut.

Meanwhile, the Western Grower’s Association, California’s largest produce trade group, is calling for new federal standards and inspections of growers, paid for by the farmers themselves. They may have no choice: the Bee reports a trade magazine as saying that supermarkets and wholesalers are demanding tougher safety standards to be in place by mid-December.

But UC Davis extension specialist Trevor Suslow tells the Bee that there is no guarantee that new regulations would really improve food safety.

Meanwhile, Rob Atwill, extension veterinarian at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s field station in Tulare and Robert Mandrell of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service are launching a project to track sources of E. coli 0157 in the Central Valley. The project was designed before the September outbreak.

One response to “Chill those veggies, and bugs in the soil

  1. Food safety is always concerned after accidents/issues which producers have been trying to avoid as disasters and media or scientists have been waiting for as festivals. The whole American society seems allergy on this topic. Actually, each year, tax payers of United States pay thousands million of dollars for somebody to reduce risk of food pathogen contamination. But they should think about what can be done by themselves. The God treats everybody fairly, so do bacteria. Now consumers want more organic food, at the same time they have to face the higher risk of E. coli contamination from ‘natural’ fertilizer. Consumers want more fresh cutting salads, in that they have to be ready for the higher risk, too. Every microbiologist knows that E. coli is heat-sensitive and any common cooking process can kill them at all. So some solutions done by consumers may be more effective.

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