Recent studies addressing the internalization of fresh produce by foodborne pathogens arose in response to the growing number of recent and high profile outbreaks involving fresh produce. Because chemical sanitizing agents used during harvest and minimal processing are unlikely to reach enteric pathogens residing within plant tissue, it is imperative that paths for pathogen entry be recognized and minimized. Using both microscopy and microbial enumeration tools, enteric pathogens have been shown to enter plant tissues through both natural apertures (stomata, lateral junctions of roots, flowers) and damaged (wounds, cut surfaces) tissue. In studies revealing preharvest internalization via plant roots or leaf stomata, experimental conditions have primarily involved exposure of plants to high pathogen concentrations (≥6 log g−1 soil or 6 log ml−1 water), but those pathogens internalized appear to have short-term persistence. Postharvest internalization of pathogens via cut surfaces may be minimized by maintaining effective levels of sanitizing agents in waters during harvesting and minimal processing.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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