This study estimates illness (diarrhea) risks from fecal pathogens that can be transmitted via fecal-contaminated fresh produce. To do this, a quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) framework was developed in National Capital Region, India based on bacterial indicator and pathogen data from fresh produce wash samples collected at local markets.
Produce wash samples were analyzed for fecal indicator bacteria (Escherichia coli, total Bacteroidales) and pathogens (Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC), enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC)). Based on the E. coli data and on literature values for Cryptosporidium and norovirus, the annual mean diarrhea risk posed by ingestion of fresh produce ranged from 18% in cucumbers to 59% in cilantro for E. coli O157:H7, and was <0.0001% for Cryptosporidium; for norovirus the risk was 11% for cucumbers and up to 46% for cilantro. The risks were drastically reduced, from 59% to 4% for E. coli O157:H7, and from 46% to 2% for norovirus for cilantro in post-harvest washing and disinfection scenario.
The present QMRA study revealed the potential hazards of eating raw produce and how post-harvest practices can reduce the risk of illness. The results may lead to better food safety surveillance systems and use of hygienic practices pre- and post-harvest.
Quantitative microbial risk assessment to estimate the risk of diarrheal diseases from fresh produce consumption in India
Food Microbiology, January 2018
Arti Kundu, Stefan Wuertz, Woutrina Smith