Photo: Scot Nelson / Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Fresh Fruit Portal: Scientists from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency have found the presence of a common lettuce disease increases the chances of E. coli bacteria infecting the plant.

In a release, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) highlighted downy mildew, caused by fungus-like water mold Bremia lactucae, was one of the biggest problems lettuce growers had to face.

In Albany, California, the ARS Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit’s Maria Brandal has been invetigating why so many E. coli outbreaks can be traced back to lettuce fields when sources of the problem can be as diverse as undercooked beef, sprouts, raw dairy, shelled walnuts, fruits and vegetables.

Lettuce leaves are actually a harsh place for microbes to survive. But the epidemiological evidence is indisputable about how often lettuce is the source of E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

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