The number of foodborne outbreaks associated with fresh produce has been increasing in the United States, with E. coli being the most common pathogen linked to them.
In a review published in International Journal of Microbiology, titled “The Role of Pathogenic E. coli in Fresh Vegetables: Behavior, Contamination Factors, and Preventive Measures,” Dr Luna-Guevara and their team assessed a number of studies to find out the behaviors and impact of pathogenic E. coli in fresh vegetables.
Studies suggest that physical factors such as pH, temperature, and moisture, chemical factors such as the nutrients in vegetables, and biological factors such as competitive microbiota and bacterial-plant interactions are the three main factors to cause contamination of raw vegetables by E. coli.
Further investigation into the survival conditions and persistence mechanisms of E. coli reveal that the bacteria can survive drastic changes in temperature, pH, osmolality, and nutrient deprivation, and each enteropathogen has its own molecular mechanisms of adherence and fitness to the vegetable biosphere.
The review concludes that further studies are necessary to better understand the transmission of pathogenic E. coli via edible plants, and that more effective food safety measures are needed to prevent the occurrence of E. coli on fresh produce.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.