The Produce Contamination Problem

The Produce Contamination Problem

Causes and Solutions

2nd Edition - February 15, 2014

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  • Editor: Karl Matthews
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124046863
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780124046115

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Understanding the causes and contributing factors leading to outbreaks of food-borne illness associated with contamination of fresh produce is a worldwide challenge for everyone from the growers of fresh-cut produce through the entire production and delivery process. The premise of The Produce Contamination Problem is that when human pathogen contamination of fresh produce occurs, it is extremely difficult to reduce pathogen levels sufficiently to assure microbiological safety with the currently available technologies. A wiser strategy would be to avoid crop production conditions that result in microbial contamination to start. These critical, problem-oriented chapters have been written by researchers active in the areas of food safety and microbial contamination during production, harvesting, packing and fresh-cut processing of horticultural crops, and were designed to provide methods of contamination avoidance. Coverage includes policy and practices in the United States, Mexico and Central America, Europe, and Japan.

Key Features

  • Addresses food-borne contaminations from a prevention view, providing proactive solutions to the problems
  • Covers core sources of contamination and methods for identifying those sources
  • Includes best practice and regulatory information


This book will be useful to growers, packers and fresh-cut processors and their trade associations and suppliers, especially those impacted by outbreaks of food-borne illness. Also a valuable source of information to researchers at universities and government agencies who are investigating means of avoiding contamination and improving the microbiological safety of fresh produce.

Table of Contents

  • Food Science and Technology International Series



    Part 1 Produce Contamination:Scope and Sources

    Chapter 1. Scope of the Produce Contamination Problem


    Key aspects of the produce contamination problem

    Potential sources of produce contamination

    Gaps in our understanding of produce contamination

    Chapter 2. Microbial Attachment and Persistence on Plants


    Ecological niches and introduction into the plant environment

    Outbreak investigations reveal sources and persistence of pathogens

    Attachment of pathogens to plant tissue

    Biofilm formation on produce surfaces

    Internalization and persistence

    Specific interactions of the pathogens with commodities

    Plant defense response to human enteric pathogens


    Chapter 3. Identification of the Source of Contamination


    Overview: phases of a foodborne outbreak investigation

    Specifics of environmental investigations

    Training needs for environmental investigators of retail, food processing facilities, packing sheds, and farms

    Resuming operations

    Farm investigations

    Packinghouse investigations

    Vacuum cooler/hydrocooler investigation

    Fresh-cut produce processor investigations

    Intentional contamination

    Lessons learned


    Editor’s Note

    Chapter 4. Manure Management


    Manure use on crops

    Survival of pathogens in manure

    Pastures, lots, and runoff

    Manure treatment technologies



    Chapter 5. Bioaerosol Contamination of Produce: Potential Issues from an Unexplored Contaminant Route



    Potential for crop contamination – sources of bioaerosols


    Chapter 6. Water Quality


    Irrigation water

    Water quality standards for irrigation water

    Occurrence of pathogens in irrigation water

    Contamination of produce during irrigation

    Survival of pathogens on produce in the field

    Other sources

    Summary and conclusions

    Chapter 7. Disease Risks Posed by Wild Birds Associated with Agricultural Landscapes


    Bird species commonly associated with agriculture

    Bacterial diseases

    Fungal diseases

    Parasitic diseases

    Determinating risk and control points

    Mitigation options


    Chapter 8. Produce Contamination by Other Wildlife


    Viral pathogens

    Bacterial pathogens

    Parasitic pathogens



    Mitigating wildlife–crop interactions


    Part 2 Commodities Associated with Major Outbreaks and Recalls

    Chapter 9. Leafy Vegetables


    Outbreaks associated with leafy greens

    Growing conditions by geographical region: link to outbreaks

    Harvesting practices: influence on contamination

    Processing practices and product contamination

    Washing and sanitizing


    Chapter 10. Melons


    Prevalence of human pathogens in and on melons

    Outbreaks of foodborne disease linked to melons

    Structural characteristics of melons promoting microbial survival and growth

    Fresh-cut melons


    Chapter 11. Microbiological Safety of Sprouted Seeds: Interventions and Regulations


    Sprouted seed market structure

    Seed production

    Methods of sprout production

    Pathogens linked to sprouted seeds

    Outbreaks linked to sprouted seeds

    Interactions of pathogens with sprouting seeds

    Sources of contamination

    Interventions to enhance the microbiological safety of sprouted seeds

    Guidelines to enhance the microbiological safety of sprouted seeds

    Conclusions and future directions

    Chapter 12. Salmonella and Tomatoes


    How Salmonella contaminates tomato fruit

    Sources of Salmonella and other human pathogens in crop production environments

    Salmonella ecology and its implications for produce safety

    Interactions between Salmonella and tomatoes: molecular insights

    The maturity stage of the tomato fruit affects Salmonella proliferation and its gene expressions

    Interactions of Salmonella with plant-associated bacteria (including plant pathogens) and their implications in produce safety

    Prevention of contamination of tomatoes by Salmonella

    Research needs

    Chapter 13. Tree Fruits and Nuts: Outbreaks, Contamination Sources, Prevention, and Remediation


    Organisms of concern

    Outbreaks associated with tree fruits

    Outbreaks associated with tree nuts

    Routes of contamination




    Chapter 14. Berry Contamination: Outbreaks and Contamination Issues


    The impact of major outbreaks

    History of viral contamination of berries

    Hepatitis A outbreaks with raspberries and strawberries

    Norovirus-associated outbreaks with raspberries

    The role of Cyclospora cayetanensis in berry-associated outbreaks

    Transmission of Cyclospora oocysts and the role of foods

    Bacterial contamination of berries

    Contamination reduction strategies

    In summary

    Part 3 Contamination Avoidance Pre and Postharvest

    Chapter 15. Produce Contamination Issues in Mexico and Central America


    Sources of contamination


    Prevalence and incidence of bacterial- , viral- , and protozoan-related gastroenteritis

    Hygiene facilities

    Good Agricultural Practices

    Outbreak-related cases in Mexico and Central America


    Chapter 16. Regulatory Issues in Europe Regarding Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Safety


    The European Union

    Fresh produce contamination problems in Europe

    What do the Europeans do – European regulations

    European Food Safety Authority


    Differences from U.S. regulations

    Funding of food safety research in Europe

    Part 4 Technology for Reduction of Human Pathogens in Fresh Produce

    Chapter 17. Disinfection of Contaminated Produce with Conventional Washing and Sanitizing Technology


    Washing and sanitizing agents

    Alternatives to chlorine

    Other approved sanitizing agents for produce

    Washing and sanitizing equipment

    Efficacy of washing and sanitizing methods for problem commodities


    Chapter 18. Advanced Technologies for Detection and Elimination of Bacterial Pathogens


    Detection methods

    Antimicrobial intervention technologies

    The challenge of technology development for organic foods

    Chapter 19. Conclusions and Recommendations


    Sources of contamination

    Commodities at risk

    Challenges of produce disinfection

    Investigating contamination on the farm

    Pre-emptive food safety programs

    The farm-to-fork approach


    Food Science and Technology International Series

Product details

  • No. of pages: 492
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2014
  • Published: February 15, 2014
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780124046863
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780124046115

About the Editor

Karl Matthews

Karl R. Matthews teaches graduate courses in Microbial Food Safety and Food Biology Fundamentals. He has received several awards, including: Lifetime Achievement Award in Phyllosphere Biology, Amity University; Outstanding service – Online Mentor Award, American Society for Microbiology and Endel Karmas Award for Excellence in Teaching. He’s been an editorial board member on several journals and is currently the Editor of the Journal of Food Safety, a position he has occupied since 2004.

Affiliations and Expertise

Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, USA

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