Occurrence of Escherichia coli, noroviruses, and F-specific coliphages in fresh market-ready produce.


Forty samples of fresh produce collected from retail food establishments were examined to determine the occurrence of Escherichia coli, F-specific coliphages, and noroviruses. An additional six samples were collected from a restaurant undergoing investigation for a norovirus outbreak. Nineteen (48%) of the retail samples and all outbreak samples were preprocessed (cut, shredded, chopped, or peeled) at or before the point of purchase. Reverse transcription-PCR, with the use of primers JV 12 and JV 13, failed to detect norovirus RNA in any of the samples. All six outbreak samples and 13 (33%) retail samples were positive for F-specific coliphages (odds ratio undefined, P = 0.003). Processed retail samples appeared more likely to contain F-specific coliphages than unprocessed samples (odds ratio 3.8; 95% confidence interval 0.8 to 20.0). Only two (5.0%) retail samples were positive for E. coli; outbreak samples were not tested for E. coli. The results of this preliminary survey suggest that F-specific coliphages could be useful conservative indicators of fecal contamination of produce and its associated virological risks. Large-scale surveys should be conducted to confirm these findings.

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@article{Allwood2004OccurrenceOE, title={Occurrence of Escherichia coli, noroviruses, and F-specific coliphages in fresh market-ready produce.}, author={Paul B Allwood and Yashpal Singh Malik and Sunil Maherchandani and Kevin J Vought and L Johnson and Craig Braymen and Craig Hedberg and Sagar M Goyal}, journal={Journal of food protection}, year={2004}, volume={67 11}, pages={2387-90} }