The Effect of Steps in the Food Production Process on Microbial Quality of High-Risk Produce Collected Near the U.S.-Mexico Border 公开

Burrowes, Vanessa Jean (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/zc77sq206?locale=zh
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Abstract

The burden of foodborne disease attributed to fresh produce in the U.S. is substantial in terms of costs and human health implications. Currently, Mexico is one of the major traders of produce with the U.S., and therefore it is important to understand the nature of this relationship as it relates to food safety. However, few epidemiological studies have assessed the routes by which microbial contamination is introduced into the food chain during production of fruits and vegetables. It is essential to identify these routes in order to implement targeted food safety interventions and ultimately reduce foodborne illnesses. The study goals were to evaluate the effects of production step on microbial concentration and prevalence of fecal indicator organisms on high-risk produce (cantaloupe melons, jalapeño peppers, and tomatoes) and farm workers' hands over multiple growing seasons from 2010-2011. Produce samples (n=254) and farmer workers' hand rinses (n=171) were collected from 11 farms and packing sheds near the U.S.-Mexico border and enumerated by culture methods for E. coli, fecal coliforms, Enterococcus spp., and somatic coliphages. Linear regression and logistic regression modeling approaches were employed to quantify differences in microbial quality of produce and hands at different production steps. The final packing shed step, melons, and year of sample collection were significantly and positively correlated with fecal indicator concentration and prevalence on produce. However, contamination was still present, but at significantly lower concentrations in the field steps, indicating that contamination may originate in the field and be amplified in the packing shed, especially for melons. Both regression methods produced estimates of similar direction and significance. In summary, the packing shed step, melons, and year of sample collection were significantly associated with microbial concentrations on produce. This investigation highlights several potential routes of produce contamination in the production environment and demonstrates the need to implement food safety interventions in packing shed facilities on produce farms, as well as the need for extra care be taken to adequately clean melons prior to shipment.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION 1
PRODUCE AS A FOODBORNE DISEASE VEHICLE 1
Changing National Food Consumption Patterns 1
Challenges in Food Safety Policy 2
Production Processes as Introduction Points of Contamination 3
Fecal Indicators as Models for Pathogen Contamination 4
Previous Research Group Findings 5
Research Goal 6
MATERIALS AND METHODS 7
Description of Field Conditions and Agricultural Practices in Production Process 7
Produce Sample Collection 8
Farm Workers' Hand Rinse Sample Collection 9
Microbial Analysis 9
Microbial Quantification 10
Statistical Analysis 12
RESULTS 14
Descriptive Statistics 14
Model Construction 14
Linear Model Results 15
Produce 15
Hands 17
Logistic Model Results 19
Produce 19
Hands 21
DISCUSSION 23
Packing Shed as Production Step of Concern for Microbial Quality of Produce and Workers' Hands 24
Significantly Different Microbial Quality of Melons Between Production Steps 26
Positive Non-Linear Pattern of Fecal Indicator Contamination Throughout Production Steps Indicate that Contamination Present in Field Steps 29
Year of Sample Collection as Statistically Significant Predictor of Microbial Quality 29
Comparison of Linear and Logistic Regression Results 30
Strengths and Limitations of Study 31
Conclusions, Future Studies, and Public Health Implications 33
REFERENCES 36
TABLES 44
FIGURES 56
APPENDIX 61

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