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Potential for transfer of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella Senftenberg from contaminated food waste derived compost and anaerobic digestate liquid to lettuce plants

Murphy, Suzannah, Gaffney, Michael T., Fanning, Seamus, Burgess, Catherine M.
Food microbiology 2016 v.59 pp. 7-13
Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella Senftenberg, anaerobic digestion, composting, composts, confocal microscopy, crops, food contamination, food waste, growing media, landfills, lettuce, pathogens, peat, public health, ready-to-eat foods, risk assessment, soil amendments
The diversion of food wastes from landfill to sustainable disposal methods, such as composting and anaerobic digestion, has led to an increase in the soil amendment products that are now commercially available and which are derived from both of these processes. The use of such products as soil amendments during the production of ready-to-eat (RTE) crops is increasing worldwide.The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of three well-recognised bacterial pathogens of importance to public health, namely Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Senftenberg and Listeria monocytogenes, to become internalised in lettuce plants from peat growing media amended with contaminated food waste derived compost and anaerobic digestion liquid. The results demonstrated both S. Senftenberg and E. coli O157:H7 are capable of internalisation at lower inoculation levels, compared to previous studies. The internalisation was visualised through confocal microscopy. Internalisation of L. monocytogenes did not occur, however significant levels of L. monocytogenes contamination occurred on the non-sterilised plant surface.Assessing the internalisation potential for each of these pathogens, through the compost and anaerobic digestate matrices, allows for better risk assessment of the use of these products in a horticultural setting.