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


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. <P>
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).<P>
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.

McLandsborough, Lynne
University of Massachusetts
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