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SA: Microbiological food safety status of commercially produced tomatoes from production to marketing

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Image: Tony McCombs / Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Journal of Food Protection: Tomatoes have been implicated in various microbial disease outbreaks and are considered a potential vehicle for foodborne pathogens. Traceback studies mostly implicate contamination during production and/or processing. The microbiological quality of commercially produced tomatoes was thus investigated from the farm to market, focusing on the impact of contaminated irrigation and washing water, facility sanitation, and personal hygiene. A total of 905 samples were collected from three largescale commercial farms from 2012 through 2014. The farms differed in water sources used (surface versus well) and production methods (open field versus tunnel). Levels of total coliforms and Escherichia coli and prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella Typhimurium were determined.

Risk areas identified in this study were water used for irrigation and poor sanitation practices in the processing facility. Implementation of effective food safety management systems in the fresh produce industry is of the utmost importance to ensure product safety for consumers.

Read the full abstract at the Journal of Food Protection