Orozco, LR and Iturriaga, MH and Tamplin, ML and Fratamico, PM and Call, JE and Luchansky, JB and Escartin, EF, Animal and Environmental Impact on the Presence and Distribution of Salmonella and Escherichia coli in Hydroponic Tomato Greenhouses, Journal of Food Protection, 71, (4) pp. 676-683. ISSN 0362-028X (2008) [Refereed Article]
From 2003 to 2004, we studied the impact of environmental influences on the microbiological quality of a hydroponic tomato farm. The presence of Salmonella was investigated on 906 samples of tomatoes and 714 environmental samples. The farm comprised 14 greenhouses and a technologically advanced packinghouse, and operated under a sanitary agricultural practices plan. The objective of the present study was to determine the operating sources of contamination. During the course of the study, two independent natural events affected the farm. In 2003, water runoff entered some of the greenhouses. A year later, wild animals (opossums, mice, and sparrows) gained entry into several of the greenhouses. Salmonella and Escherichia coli were found in samples of tomatoes, water puddles, soil, shoes, and the feces of local wild and farm animals. Salmonella Montevideo, Salmonella Newport, and strains of the F serogroup were isolated from tomatoes. Almost all of the Salmonella Newport strains were isolated from samples collected during or immediately after the flood. Analysis by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed that some Salmonella Montevideo isolates from tomatoes, opossums, and mice displayed identical XbaI or AvrII patterns, suggesting that these wild animals represented one source of contamination. F serogroup strains were found mostly on samples of goat feces and personnel shoes when standard working practices were in place. Shoes were found to be an important vehicle for dissemination of Salmonella into the greenhouses. The level of protection provided by hydroponic greenhouses does not exclude the eventuality that enteric pathogenic bacteria can gain access through various avenues. Copyright ©, International Association for Food Protection.
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