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Sanitary Harvesting Yields Safer Veggies



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ST. PAUL, Minn., Jun 09, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. pathologists are finding new ways to reduce the increasing number of people who get sick from disease-causing agents found on fresh produce.

A report published by the American Phytopathological Society said new advances in food safety research are enabling plant pathologists at Oregon State University to learn more about the dangers of human pathogens. The researchers stressed the importance of sanitary growing and harvesting conditions worldwide.

The number of human disease outbreaks as a result of pathogens on produce has been on the rise for the past several decades, Steve Scheuerell, a university research associate, said in a statement.

Escherichia coli and salmonella can survive on fresh fruits and vegetables up to the time of human consumption and scientists are just beginning to understand how these dangerous pathogens colonize leaf surfaces.

"On the domestic front, the National Organic Program has taken the lead in implementing proactive measures to prevent potential contamination of fresh produce with human pathogens," Scheuerell said, through such methods as quality assurance testing of compost and mandating pre-harvest intervals for applying manure.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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