The research team came to the conclusion Salmonella Strawberry root contamination has not been a food safety risk, but the possibility of surface contamination remains.
Strawberry production is one of the driving forces in Spanish agriculture and one of the most popular fruits in Europe. Its economic relevance and the value that consumers attach to it make this fruit an object of scientific research from various perspectives, including food safety.
A research project Scientists from the University of Cordoba, including Liliana Pérez-Lavalle, Elena Carrasco, Pedro Vallesquino-Laguna, Manuel Cejudo, Guiomar Denisse Posada and Antonio Valero, have investigated whether the Salmonella Thompson bacteria, one of the pathogens that can contaminate the fruit through sewage and / or soil, could enter through the roots of strawberry plants (especially the ‘San Andreas’ variety) and reach the fruit.
For the study, several groups of strawberries were exposed to water that was contaminated with the pathogen at different levels of inoculation. The roots, leaves and fruits were then analyzed and found to be very low even in those who received the greatest amount of contaminated water.
It was therefore found that access from the root to the edible zone is not a significant entry route for the pathogen. The research team also found that drip irrigation is more effective at preventing contamination than sprinkler irrigation, as the former prevents direct contact between water and fruit, thus preventing both product contamination and deterioration. “Excess moisture in the fruit due to contact with water can lead to the growth of mold and rot,” explained the group’s researchers.
Mold can also cause its own problems, as some species can release mycotoxins that can cause disease in humans depending on how much is eaten and what types of mold are accidentally consumed.
The reason why the Salmonella The bacterium has been researched, but due to its high degree of survival in products made from strawberries and its shelf life, it is able to exist in sewage and soil for more than eight months. It has a great ability to adapt to various conditions of environmental stress, such as: B. the acidic pH of some fruits.
The research group concluded that there is also a greater likelihood of surface contamination of strawberries, which can occur during harvest if workers do not adhere to proper hygiene practices or because the fruit comes into contact with contaminated surfaces.
Scientists claim that most strawberries are not washed to prevent mold deterioration. It is therefore particularly important that consumers, as the last link in the chain, ensure that they wash this fruit before consuming it.