New guide to advise on harmful pathogens

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fresh produce, Nutrition, Microbiology

A new guide to microbiological food safety aims to help food
processors eliminate the pathogens in fruit and vegetables that
cause food-borne diseases such as E-coli, salmonella and cholera.

"Microbiology of fresh produce", from the "emerging issues in food safety" series, examines the risks of pathogens along the journey from food to fork, including pre-harvest, harvest, processing, packaging, storage and retail. The arrival of this publication could not be more timely, as fresh produce is now one of the major sources of food-borne diseases. Pathogens linked to vegetables such as lettuce and spinach have caused wide-spread diseases, and even death, in the US. According to the book's editor, Karl Matthews, people should be encouraged to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, as they are necessary for a healthy diet and help prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes. However, this also means that food processors have to be even more vigilant. Around 12 per cent of food-borne illnesses are linked to micro-organisms in fresh produce, Matthews said, a number which is set to increase as consumption rises. However, there are many unknowns in regards to what causes these micro-organisms to damage human health, he said. One reason for the increase in food pathogens is the "globalisation of the food supply",​ he claims, which has arisen due to consumer demand for fresh produce all the year round. Fruit and vegetables are consequently flown around the world over long periods of time, giving harmful pathogens an opportunity to breed during transit. The book also explores the history and causes behind well-known outbreaks of diseases, such as when large outbreaks of Salmonella in the US were linked with contaminated tomatoes in the 1990s. The book examines several remedies to potentially harmful micro-organisms, including UV light treatment, edible coatings, irradiation and harvest disinfecting systems. It is also the only publication to devote a chapter to the safety of seed sprouts, according to the publishers, ASM press. Publication: Microbiology of Fresh Produce. Editor: Karl R. Matthews. Publisher: ASM Press.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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