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Developing and Validating Practical Strategies to Improve Microbial Safety in Composting Process Control and Handling Practices

Jaing, Xuiping
Clemson University
Start date
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Compost as soil amendment and organic fertilizer is a major source of nutrients for plant growth. Although the high temperatures generated by microbial activities during active composting can inactivate pathogens, the survival or regrowth of foodborne pathogens during composting process or in the finished compost can be problematic for vegetable production.

This proposed study uses a systems approach to address pathogen control during composting process and subsequent storage and handling of finished products, develop and validate some practical strategies, which can be readily adopted by composting operators or growers.

In this proposed study, we'll validate the thermal inactivation data of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in compost using naturally occurring isolates; optimize and validate the finished compost as physical covering and straw as the base of passive static compost heaps and windrow compost piles; apply the pathogen growth model to determine the potential of finished composts to support the pathogen growth, and investigate the growth, survival, and control of food borne pathogens in the finished compost.

The results from this study will provide practical methods or practices on compost production and handling to eliminate or reduce pathogen contamination of compost, thereby helping produce industry to grow safe products for human consumption.

Funding Source
Center for Produce Safety
Project source
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Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Escherichia coli