E.coli in leafy greens: Study identifies factors that can raise and lower risks


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Farm management practices and environmental factors have a strong influence on whether E. coli will contaminate a crop of spinach or other leafy greens before it is harvested. That’s according to a study featured on the cover of the new issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Led by Renata Ivanek and her lab at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, the study resulted from collaboration between Texas A&M University, Colorado State University, Texas Tech University and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

The study found:

* The odds of spinach contamination decreased to approximately 1 in 17 with implementation of good hygiene practices for farm workers.

* Chances increased to approximately 4 in 1 for every millimeter increase in the average amount of rain in the month before harvest.

* Applying manure fertilizer on the field increased the odds of contamination to approximately 52 in 1.