spinachAs investigators actively seek to identify sources and vehicles responsible for the introduction of E. coli O157:H7 onto California spinach that made its way into the food supply this fall, the Journal of Food Science this month provides up-to-date research on the various ways bacteria can survive on fresh produce.

The study, Interactions Affecting the Proliferation and Control of Human Pathogens on Edible Plants, is included in the October issue of JFS, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, the international, not-for-profit scientific society.

Authored by Ohio State University researchers Dan Aruscavage, Ken Lee, Sally Miller, and Jeffrey LeJeune, the study identifies many challenges. This includes:

  • Micro-environmental changes that can enhance or adversely affect survival and proliferation of harmful organisms.
  • Surface characteristics of produce that determine whether pathogens adhere to food.
  • Protected sites on surfaces and other sites such as plant wounds that may enhance survival and proliferation of pathogens.
  • Temperature and UV radiation affect enteric pathogen survival.
  • Competition between organisms.