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Finding Out How Pathogens Attach To Fresh Produce Could Boost Food Safety

March 26, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A wide range of fresh produce has been linked to recent outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella, including melons, jalapeño and serrano peppers, basil, lettuce, horseradish sprouts and tomatoes. British scientists say they are studying how bacterial pathogens attach themselves to fruits and vegetables causing outbreaks of food poisoning and believe their findings will lead to better ways to control and even prevent contamination. For example, strains of Salmonella act differently when attached to ripe or unripe tomatoes. On ripe – but not unripe – tomatoes they produce an extensive network of filaments. Likewise, strains of E. coli have hair-like appendages and flagella that are used as hooks to secure themselves to things like salad leaves.
Gad Frankel, "The Time Is Ripe for Salmonella", News release, presentation at the Society for General Microbiology's spring conference, March 26, 2012, © Society for General Microbiology
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