Kentucky State University

Poster Title

Evaluations of Practices from Kentucky Farmers: Assessing Microbial Quality of Produce and Antibiotic Resistance

Institution

Kentucky State University

Abstract

In recent years the number of bacterial food-borne outbreaks associated with contaminated produce has increased substantially. Escherichia coli continued to contribute to the majority of foodborne illnesses. In addition to the conventional practices, and with more small farmers starting organic production, given a wide range of organic production practices, there is a vulnerable segment which demands continuous microbial safety assessments. In the current study, twenty small produce farms from fourteen counties in Kentucky participated in a survey outlining farmers’ procedures during their routine operations. These farms were visited thrice, during the pre-growing, harvest, and post-harvesting seasons. A total of 59 produce samples were collected from 2 certified organic, 14 non-certified organic and 4 conventional farms, respectively. E. coli was isolated from 25% of all produce samples. Most of the contamination was correlated with fields that were fertilized with manure in the past 90 days or less. Only 2 farmers used conventional fertilizer exclusively, but had a significantly lower contamination of E. coli than farmers that eliminated the use of fertilizer and farmers that used non-conventional fertilizer techniques. All produce samples that were contaminated with E. coli were tested for antibiotic susceptibility and resistance using fourteen different antibiotics, and comparisons were made to determine correlations between manure types and antibiotic resistance levels of E. coli detected in produce.

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Evaluations of Practices from Kentucky Farmers: Assessing Microbial Quality of Produce and Antibiotic Resistance

In recent years the number of bacterial food-borne outbreaks associated with contaminated produce has increased substantially. Escherichia coli continued to contribute to the majority of foodborne illnesses. In addition to the conventional practices, and with more small farmers starting organic production, given a wide range of organic production practices, there is a vulnerable segment which demands continuous microbial safety assessments. In the current study, twenty small produce farms from fourteen counties in Kentucky participated in a survey outlining farmers’ procedures during their routine operations. These farms were visited thrice, during the pre-growing, harvest, and post-harvesting seasons. A total of 59 produce samples were collected from 2 certified organic, 14 non-certified organic and 4 conventional farms, respectively. E. coli was isolated from 25% of all produce samples. Most of the contamination was correlated with fields that were fertilized with manure in the past 90 days or less. Only 2 farmers used conventional fertilizer exclusively, but had a significantly lower contamination of E. coli than farmers that eliminated the use of fertilizer and farmers that used non-conventional fertilizer techniques. All produce samples that were contaminated with E. coli were tested for antibiotic susceptibility and resistance using fourteen different antibiotics, and comparisons were made to determine correlations between manure types and antibiotic resistance levels of E. coli detected in produce.