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Survival of Pathogenic Bacteria in Pesticide Solutions and on Treated Tomato Plants

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The ability of Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Shigella to survive or grow in pesticide solutions (Ambush 240EC, Benlate T-N-G, Bravo 500, Botran 75WP, Captan 80WDG, Parasol, and Vendex 50W) used by the horticultural industry was examined. In the laboratory, individual cultures were inoculated at 4 log CFU/ml in pesticides diluted with sterile saline to the lowest recommended spray concentrations. During 21°C incubation for ≤96 h, bacterial survivors in the samples and a control consisting of saline were enumerated either by agar surface plating or hydrophobic grid membrane filtration. Most formulations tested were somewhat inhibitory to the pathogenic bacteria. All inoculated bacteria survived or grew in Bravo 500. Among bacteria tested, Salmonella spp. were best able to survive and Listeria spp. were least able to survive in pesticide solutions. When the incubation temperature or pesticide concentration was increased, survival of Salmonella varied depending on the type of formulation. In the field, when a bacterial cocktail containing E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Enteritidis was added to Bravo 500 at 6 log CFU/ml, both organisms were recovered from leaves and fruit skins of sprayed tomato plants after the recommended 1 day-to-harvest interval. E. coli and Salmonella survived longer on tomato leaves when sprayed in saline (at least 26 and 56 days, respectively) than when sprayed in Bravo 500 (>45 h and <15 days, respectively). While Salmonella serovars Typhimurium and Heidelberg grew in the fungicide Bravo, and Enteritidis grew in the insecticide Vendex within 96 h at 21°C in the laboratory, pathogen growth in other pesticide formulations did not occur. Higher temperature (≤30°C) or doubling pesticide concentrations had either no or a negative effect on Salmonella Heidelberg survival. Use of unexpired pesticide formulations may have contributed to the reduced bacterial survival and growth found in the laboratory and during the field trials with Bravo.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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