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Occurrence of Parasites on Fruits and Vegetables in Norway

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Between August 1999 and January 2001, samples of various fruits and vegetables obtained within Norway were analyzed by published methods for parasite contamination. Neither Cyclospora oocysts nor Ascaris (or other helminth) eggs were detected on any of the samples examined for these parasites. However, of the 475 samples examined for Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts, 29 (6%) were found to be positive. No samples were positive for both parasites. Of the 19 Cryptosporidium-positive samples, 5 (26%) were in lettuce, and 14 (74%) in mung bean sprouts. Of the 10 Giardia-positive samples, 2 (20%) were in dill, 2 (20%) in lettuce, 3 (30%) in mung bean sprouts, 1 (10%) in radish sprouts, and 2 (20%) in strawberries. Mung bean sprouts were significantly more likely to be contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts or Giardia cysts than the other fruits and vegetables. Concentrations of Cryptosporidium and Giardia detected were generally low (mean of approximately 3 [oo]cysts per 100 g produce). Although some of the contaminated produce was imported (the majority, if sprouted seeds are excluded), there was no association between imported produce and detection of parasites. Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts were also detected in water samples concerned with field irrigation and production of bean sprouts within Norway. This is the first time that parasites have been detected on vegetables and fruit obtained in a highly developed, wealthy country, without there being an outbreak situation. These findings may have important implications for global food safety.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Section of Parasitology, Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway 2: Section of Parasitology, Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, P.O. Box 8146 Dep., N-0033 Oslo, Norway

Publication date: November 1, 2001

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