Posts from the "Research & Development" category

US: Count of generic Escherichia coli on spinach at the preharvest level determined by the multi-factorial effect of ambient temperature, precipitation, farm management and environmental factors

American Society for Microbiology: A repeated cross-sectional study was conducted to identify farm management, environment, weather, and landscape factors that predict the count of generic Escherichia coli on spinach at the preharvest level. E. coli was enumerated for 955 spinach samples collected on 12 farms in Texas and Colorado between 2010 and 2012. Odds of contamination decreased with implementation of hygiene practices (OR = 0.06) and increased with an increasing average precipitation amount (mm) in the past 29 days (OR=3.5) and the application of manure (OR=52.2). On contaminated spinach, E. coli counts increased with the average precipitation amount over the past 29 days. The relationship between E. coli count and the average maximum daily temperature over the 9 days prior to sampling followed a quadratic function with the highest bacterial count at around 24 °C. These findings indicate that the odds of a contamination event in spinach are determined by farm management, environment and weather factors. However, once the contamination event has occurred, the count of generic E. coli on spinach is determined by weather only.
Click here to access the full abstract from the American Society for Microbiology.

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Mars, Inc. and IBM Research Launch Collaborative Food Safety Platform

Food Safety Magazine: Mars, Incorporated has partnered with IBM Research to launch a consortium to drive advances in global food safety. The ‘Sequencing the Food Supply Chain Consortium‘–a collaborative food safety platform–will leverage advances in genomics to further our understanding of what makes food safe.
The research consortium marks an alternative approach in how companies traditionally tackle unsafe food. While many companies, such as Mars, already have rigorous processes in place to ensure food safety risks are managed appropriately, the application of genomics being pioneered by this consortium will enable an in-depth understanding and categorization of micro-organisms and their activity on a much bigger scale than has previously been possible.
Click here to read this article from Food Safety Magazine.
Click here to access the media release from Mars, Inc.

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What are industry’s science and technology needs?

Food Navigator: Food fraud, healthy diets and sustainability are among the issues needing innovation in science and technology, according to a major survey from Campden BRI.

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EU: Salmonella and raw leafy greens most dangerous according to EU risk assessment model

Doug Powell writes: “The top ranking food/pathogen combination was Salmonella spp. and leafy greens eaten raw followed by (in equal rank) Salmonella spp. and bulb and stem vegetables [onion, leek, celery, etc.], Salmonella spp. and tomatoes, Salmonella spp. and melons, and pathogenic Escherichia coli and fresh pods, legumes or grains. Despite the inherent assumptions and limitations, this risk model is considered a tool for risk managers, as it allows ranking of food/pathogen combinations most often linked to foodborne [illness] human cases originating from [food of non-animal origin] FoNAO in the EU.”
Click here to read the full article on barfblog.
Click here to access the report from the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
Image credit: Liz West / Flickr, CC by 2.0

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NO: An outbreak of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) infection in Norway, 2012: a reminder to consider uncommon pathogens in outbreaks involving imported products

Epidemiology and Infection: We investigated an outbreak of gastroenteritis following a Christmas buffet served on 4 – 9 December 2012 to ~1300 hotel guests. More than 300 people were reported ill in initial interviews with hotel guests. Imported chives added fresh to the scrambled eggs were the suspected source of the outbreak but were unavailable for testing. Following this outbreak, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority recommended that imported fresh herbs should be heat-treated before use in commercial kitchens.
Click here to read the full Summary at Cambridge Journals Online.

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US: Effect of Proximity to a Cattle Feedlot on Escherichia coli O157:H7 Contamination of Leafy Greens and Evaluation of the Potential for Airborne Transmission

American Society for Microbiology: “The impact of proximity to a beef cattle feedlot on E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy greens was examined. E. coli O157:H7 was recovered from 3.5% of leafy green samples per plot at 60 meters, which was higher (P < 0.05) than the 1.8% of positive samples per plot at 180 meters, indicating a decrease in contamination as distance from the feedlot was increased. Current leafy green field distance guidelines of 120 meters (400 feet) may not be adequate to limit the transmission of E. coli O157:H7 to produce crops planted near concentrated animal feeding operations.”

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US: Chlorine Dioxide Gas Offers Hope for Sprout Sanitation

Researchers at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that chlorine dioxide gas is more effective at killing Salmonella on bean sprouts than chlorine wash — the industry-preferred decontamination technique.
Sprouted seeds have a long, and poor, contamination record. Since 1995, at least 51 outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada have been linked to sprouts. Of those outbreaks, 39 were linked to Salmonella.
While the sprouted seed industry has been searching for a surefire way to sanitize its product, cleaning sprouts is tricky because the food is sensitive and any harsh treatment could affect its color or taste. Sprouts are also harder to treat because, as with other fresh produce, the porous, uneven surface of sprouted seeds provides many places for bacteria to tuck themselves away.
Click here to read the full article at Food Safety News.

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Center for Produce Safety Awards $2.8M to Fourteen Projects

Center for Produce Safety: Davis, California, October 6, 2014 – The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) today announced fourteen new grant awards valued at $2.8 million. The research awards are directed at answering critical questions in specific areas of food safety practices for fruit, vegetable and tree nut production; pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest handling; and co-management of food safety and the environment. The objective is to provide the produce industry with practical, translatable research data that can be used at all levels of the supply chain.
To read the full article, including a brief description of each new project, please visit

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More answers still to come in food safety research

Tim York writes: While the need to reduce risk of foodborne illness in fresh produce is not new, it remains at the top of the list of priorities for most of us working in the supply chain. Similarly, managing risk continues to be a hot topic among foodservice operators simultaneously working to reduce food costs and improve customer satisfaction.
Safe produce starts in the field and ends on the plate — but all points along the way have a shared commitment to preventing problems. Creating an industry culture that puts protecting people as its first priority is followed closely — but followed nonetheless — by the health of our companies.
Read the full article at

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Buyers and Sellers: Moving to a Food Safety Culture, PMA US update

Food Safety in vital for creating consumer confidence in the fresh produce industry and therefore imperative that buyers and sellers invest into a business culture that puts consumers first. But how exactly do you develop a food safety culture in your business? find out here, with this free webinar.

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