3 years ago

Effect of surrounding vegetation on microbial survival or die‐off on watermelon surface in an agriculture setting

Ronald Strahan, Veerachandra K. Yemmireddy, Achyut Adhikari, Vijay Singh Chhetri, Katheryn J. Parraga Estrada, Kathryn Fontenot

Abstract

Preharvest contamination of produce with food borne pathogens has been a major food safety issue. In this study, we investigated the effect of surrounding vegetation on the survival of natural and inoculated generic Escherichia coli on watermelon rinds in an agricultural field setting. There was no significant difference (p > .05) on the populations of natural generic E. coli (1–1.46 log Most Probable Number (MPN)/sample) and coliforms (<3.99 log CFU/cm2) on watermelons harvested from low, medium, and high levels of vegetation. However, the survival rate of generic E. coli inoculated on watermelon rind discs was variable with the level of vegetation. A significant reduction in generic E. coli count was observed within 12 hr at all vegetation levels. After 108 hr, discs placed at low vegetation level had a highest die‐off reduction (3 log Colony Forming Units (CFU)/cm2) compared to medium and high vegetation levels.

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