UCCE investigates how E. coli survives in vegetable fields
E. coli colonies on diagnostic agar medium.
What has ANR done?UC Davis researchers have been studying food-borne pathogens on crops for a number of years. However, because of the heightened concern about E. coli O157:H7 contamination of leafy vegetables, Monterey County farm advisors recently have partnered with food safety specialists Trevor Suslow and Linda Harris of UC Davis to conduct field experiments designed to investigate the ability of E. coli to survive and spread in a production environment. Using various nonpathogenic E. coli isolates as surrogate organisms, they are evaluating how variations in soil moisture and environmental conditions may impact survival in soil, water and on plant surfaces. This team is conducting a series of other experiments to develop information on source-tracking, survival, detection technologies, and field ecology of E. coli.
Field-based scientific data fills in missing information gapWhile a thorough examination of food-borne pathogens on leafy green commodities will undoubtedly be a long-term project, University of California researchers have initiated efforts to provide science-based information that can be used to guide industry in food safety policies. For example, it appears likely that soil moisture may significantly influence the persistence of E. coli in the field. These studies are intended to help fill the need for practical, field-oriented studies conducted under actual agricultural production conditions.
Supporting Unit:Monterey County, UC ANR Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Plant Science
Steven T. Koike, Mike Cahn, and Richard Smith, UCCE farm advisors, (831) 759-7350, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Trevor Suslow, (530) 754-8313, email@example.com, and Linda Harris, (530) 754-9485, firstname.lastname@example.org, food safety specialists, UC Davis.