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Harmful Pathogen Can Be Reduced In Fields If Harvesting Is Properly Timed

July 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. scientists working to create national food safety policies and practices have determined that harvesting crops 24 hours after irrigation or rain reduces the risk of exposure to the harmful pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, which causes listeriosis. The chance of finding Listeria in tested fields was 25 times greater after rain or irrigation. But if the fields were allowed to dry for a day the chance of detecting Listeria dropped to normal levels. Findings such as these are being used to set rules, standards and guidelines for implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act.  Listeriosis is a serious infection that mainly affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.
Daniel Weller et al., "Spatial and temporal factors associated with an increased prevalence of Listeria monocytogenesin New York State spinach fields. ", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, July 22, 2015, © American Society for Microbiology
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