Quantitative and Qualitative Assessments of Enterobacteriaceae, Coliforms, and Generic Escherichia coli on Fresh Vegetables Sold in Cambodian Fresh Produce Distribution Centers

Carla L. Schwan, April Molitor, Lyda Hok, Paul Ebner, Jessie L. Vipham, Valentina Trinetta Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 107-112, Mar 2022 Volume 42, Issue 2: Pages 107–112 DOI: 10.4315/FPT-21-023

Cambodia has introduced several initiatives to increase production and consumption of fresh produce throughout the country. Fresh produce, however, is often associated with foodborne disease; thus, understanding how food-borne pathogens enter and are transmitted throughout Cambodian production chains can help to ensure positive nutritional outcomes from increased produce consumption. This study was conducted to provide a quantitative (log CFU/g) and qualitative (prevalence) assessment of Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms, and Escherichia coli on tomato, cucumber, and lettuce sold through aproduce distribution center in Cambodia. Samples (n = 384) were collected over 6-month period (December 2019– May 2020) and screened for the presence of Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms, and Escherichia coli following methods adapted from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Bacteriological Analytical Manual. A significantly greater concentration of Enterobacteriaceae was observed on lettuce (4.71 ± 1.02 log CFU/g) than cucumber (3.44 ± 1.12 log CFU/g) and tomato (2.79 ± 1.02 log CFU/g) (P < 0.05). The indicator organisms were present at the highest percent prevalence (P < 0.05) in lettuce, followed by cucumber and tomato. The results of this study provide an initial assessment of Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms, and E. coli contamination in vegetables sold through Cambodian markets. These data highlight the necessity to establish and/or improve sanitation practices among the different points of the vegetable value chain in Cambodia.

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