<OL> <LI> Develop improved methods for eliminating human pathogens from fruits and vegetables, especially sprouting seed and various types of sprouts, melons, and other structurally sensitive fruits and vegetables - research should primarily focus on developing procedures for produce produced regionally; <LI> Develop and or improve techniques for the isolation and detection of human pathogens from produce; <LI> Determine the most effective means of treating seed and produce with currently employed and new antimicrobial agents.
A variety of natural plant compounds and synthetic chemicals with anti-bacterial activity will be tested singularly or in combination for their ability to decontaminate seed, sprouts and other produce including melons destined to be used for fresh-cut. Competitive exclusion of human pathogens from produce will be explored initially focusing on sprouts. Currently employed selective media developed for the isolation and detection of human pathogens on meats will be evaluated for use with produce and the media modified to optimize their use with produce. Factors (plant, microbial and/or environmental) that affect the survival and growth of human pathogens on produce will be identified. Meetings and workshops will be held with industry representatives in order to transfer new methodologies to ensure the safety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits, vegetables and sprouts.