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Eliminating Harmful Bacteria From Produce Is A Tougher Challenge Than Once Thought

August 15, 2011: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers report that proper sanitization can eliminate Salmonella and E. coli bacteria from the surface of fruits and vegetables, but can’t reach pathogens that infest the inner tissues. In their study, which used a technology known as immunocytochemistry, the researchers found a form of E. coli in tissues of mung bean sprouts, as well as Salmonella in peanut seedlings, after the plants' seeds were planted. The seeds could have been tainted before or after planting through contaminated soil or water, they suggested. The pathogens were found in every major tissue, including the plant tissues that transport nutrients. The only solution, they said, is to cook foods to temperatures known to kill the pathogens, especially in the inner tissues.
Amanda J. Deering, et al., "Identification of the Cellular Location of Internalized Escherichia coli O157:H7", Journal of Food Protection, August 15, 2011, © International Association for Food Protection
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