Full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids, fruits and vegetables are unarguably a nutritious and essential part of a healthy diet. Sometimes produce comes with unwanted pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses.
There are steps everyone can take to minimize the effects of these pathogens from food selection choices to how you prepare and store fresh produce. Read more on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.
At the NC Research Campus, scientists at the NC State University (NCSU) Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) have two projects underway to develop new, post harvest methods to reduce the presence of pathogens and keep produce safe and healthy.
Improving Organic Produce Safety
In collaboration with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, PHHI scientists are part of a $2 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative. They are collaborating on the use of “alternative organic antimicrobials” to develop a natural substance to use in post-harvest wash water for organic produce that will reduce the presence of pathogens like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Read more.
NCSU scientists and NC Cooperative Extension outreach are also collaborating with the FDA on new standards to prevent Salmonella contamination of tomatoes. Working with three research stations in North Carolina, scientists are identifying sources of Salmonella, developing methods for remediation to prevent the pathogen’s spread and collecting genetic information for an East Coast database and genome map. Read more.