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Comparison of the Microflora on Organically and Conventionally Grown Spring Mix from a California Processor

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Considerable speculation has occurred concerning the potential for higher numbers of foodborne pathogens on organically grown produce compared with produce not grown organically. The microflora composition of spring mix or mesclun, a mixture of multiple salad ingredients, grown either by organic or conventional means was determined. Unwashed or washed spring mix was obtained from a commercial California fresh-cut produce processor who does not use manure in their cultivation practices. Fifty-four samples of each type of product were supplied over a 4-month period. Analysis included enumeration of total mesophiles, psychrotrophs, coliforms, generic Escherichia coli, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and molds. In addition, spring mix was analyzed for the presence of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. The mean populations of mesophilic and psychrotrophic bacteria, yeasts, molds, lactic acid bacteria, and coliforms on conventionally grown spring mix were not statistically different (P > 0.05) from respective mean populations on organically grown spring mix. The mean population of each microbial group was significantly higher on unwashed spring mix compared with the washed product. Of the 14 samples found to contain E. coli, eight were from nonwashed conventional spring mix, one was from washed conventional spring mix, and four were from nonwashed organic spring mix. Salmonella and L. monocytogenes were not detected in any of the samples analyzed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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