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Survival, Transfer, and Inactivation of Salmonella on Plastic Materials Used in Tomato Harvest

Investigators
McLandsborough, Lynne
Institutions
University of Massachusetts
Start date
2011
End date
2012
Objective
In an effort to improve sanitation, growers are increasingly using plastic materials to handle and pack fresh produce, replacing traditional wood crates and paperboard cartons. Further, many workers have begun wearing gloves in an effort to reduce pathogen contamination of hand harvested produce. However, there is a lack of practical, translatable research data that identifies what materials and cleaning/sanitization practices will most effectively manage food safety risks.

Since bacterial transfer is a biophysical process that occurs between a surface and produce, we will evaluate the physical characteristics of glove and plastic bin materials, and their influence on bacterial transfer and cleaning/sanitation. We will then assess survival of Salmonella on plastic materials and the potential for cross contamination from bin and glove materials to tomatoes. Finally, we will quantitatively assess cleaning and sanitation efficiency of plastic materials at various stages in their lifecycle (new, repeatedly sanitized, abraded by cleaning brushes).

Research results will be translated into recommendations of best practices for cleaning and sanitation to prevent contamination of produce. We will work closely with the Center for Produce Safety and our local, regional, and national industry partners to develop practical, science-based food safety training materials to support sanitary on-farm practices.

Funding Source
Center for Produce Safety
Project source
View this project
Project number
2011-101
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Commodities
Produce