Delay fresh produce harvest after rain to reduce risk

| July 9, 2015

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-lettuce-farm-background-image9214801Researchers at Cornell University in the USA have discovered that waiting 24 hours after rain or irrigation before harvesting can reduce the risk of foodborne illness from fresh produce.

The researchers looked at the frequency of isolation of Listeria monocytogenes in spinach in fields in New York State and found that the chances of finding the pathogen were 25 times greater immediately after rain or irrigation, but reduced dramatically after fields had dried for at least 24 hours.

It is thought that the application of water to soil creates conditions in which Listeria can thrive and be transferred to plants during harvest, but this risk is greatly reduced after drying. It is hoped that these findings will help in the development of new guidelines for growers.

The research is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology and an abstract can be found here.

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Category: Research

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