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The microbial quality and safety of produce.


The proportion of foodborne illnesses associated with fresh produce has increased over the last decade. In an effort to address this concern, the objectives of the first three studies were (i) to determine the quality and safety of produce sampled from the farm and packing sheds by enumerating microbial indicator organisms and testing for various pathogens; (ii) to examine the routes of microbial contamination in domestic and imported produce, and identify areas of potential contamination throughout production and processing; and (iii) to characterize the antimicrobial resistance profiles of Enterococcus spp. among fresh produce. The purpose of the final study was to develop a method to pre-concentrate pathogens from sprouts and spent irrigation water to facilitate the direct (without prior cultural enrichment) detection of pathogens using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).