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Effect of Irrigation Method on Transmission to and Persistence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 on Lettuce

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In this study, the transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H7 to lettuce plants through spray and surface irrigation was demonstrated. For all treatments combined, the number of plants testing positive following a single exposure to E. coli O157: H7 through spray irrigation (29 of 32 plants) was larger than the number testing positive following surface irrigation (6 of 32 plants). E. coli O157:H7 persisted on 9 of 11 plants for 20 days following spray irrigation with contaminated water.Immersion of harvested lettuce heads for 1 min in a 200 ppm chlorine solution did not eliminate all E. coli O157:H7 cells. The results of this study suggest that regardless of the irrigation method used, crops can become contaminated; therefore, the irrigation of food crops with water of unknown microbial quality should be avoided.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA 2: Department of Food Science, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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