Probe into pathogens in fresh food

26 Jul 2013

A Government body tasked with food safety research is to commission a new study into how fresh produce is affected by pathogens.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is inviting tenders for the research to improve the microbiological safety of ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables.

Contamination of fresh produce is often linked to illnesses all over the world, the most recent of which occurred last year when Chinese frozen strawberries were associated with norovirus cases in Germany and the same country was hit by E-coli outbreaks in 2011 thought to be caused by sprouted seeds. France was also affected.

The current methods used to wash and decontaminate fresh produce often involve commercial washing systems, which cannot categorically state that all pathogens are eradicated. It was thought that contamination comes from soil or the surface of fruit and vegetables, but recent studies have shown that they can be present inside fresh produce and in plant tissues.

The FSA says it is vital to discover what the new findings mean for fresh produce and how they can affect the health of humans.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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