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Comparative analysis of the bacterial flora of vegetables collected directly from farms and from supermarkets in Germany

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A total of 1,001 vegetables were collected from 13 farms and 11 supermarkets in Bavaria, Germany; 722 samples were positive for coliforms (mostly Enterobacter cloacae; n = 176). Escherichia coli were detected in 34, Pseudomonas spp. in 439, Salmonella spp. in 1, Enterococcus spp. in 682, and Listeria spp. in 11 samples. Prevalence of all investigated genera tended to be lower in samples collected at the supermarket. However, prevalence of Pseudomonas fluorescens was higher in supermarket samples. Cereals/bulbous vegetables were less contaminated than root vegetables/salads. Fruit vegetables seem to be often subsequently contaminated in the retail market. Compared to foods of animal origin, prevalence of pathogenic bacteria is low. Particularly, in 1,001 investigated vegetables, only four L. monocytogenes and one Salmonella enterica have been found. Almost all of the detected microorganisms are reported to be opportunistic pathogens, if only in rare cases. Therefore, fresh produce should be washed or peeled before it is eaten raw.
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Keywords: bacteria; farm; fresh produce; supermarket; vegetables

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Technische Universitat Munchen, Chair of Animal Hygiene, Freising, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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