Fresh Produce Safety and growers' acquaintance with Good Agricultural Practices in Middle and West Tennessee

Jessica L Dompreh, Tennessee State University


Fresh produce is an essential portion of the world people’s diet, contributing essential vitamins and minerals. However, consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has been associated with outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Many consumers are concerned with fresh produce safety and therefore are leaning towards purchasing local produce at farmer’s markets, road-side stands, and neighborhood markets. The aim of this study was to investigate the microbiological quality of fresh produce and grower’s acquaintance with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) in small and medium-sized produce farms. A total of 181 samples representing root, vine, leafy vegetables, and fruits were analyzed for total aerobic bacteria (APC), Escherichia coli, and Salmonella using standard methods. Presumptive pathogenic isolates were confirmed using Latex agglutination tests. Antimicrobial-susceptibility of 10 antimicrobial agents was determined by using Kirby-Bauer disc diffusion method and results interpreted by CLSI interpretative values. To determine grower’s knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices, surveys were also administered to selected produce farms. Total aerobic populations varied between samples, while 6.6% (n=12) were positive for Salmonella and 50.8% (n=92) for Escherichia coli. Apples, collard greens, kale, red onions, tomatillos, and zucchini were contaminated with Salmonella. Abundance (log CFU/g) of APC ranged from 8.4 to 9.6 over the different produce types. Escherichia coli antimicrobial resistance was significantly higher (P<0.05) in rifampin (43.6%) as compared to erythromycin (32%), and amoxicillin (18.7%). Salmonella antimicrobial resistance was observed in erythromycin (6.6%) and rifampin (6.6%). The findings from the surveys indicated that 45% of the farmers surveyed were knowledgeable on Good Agricultural Practices, 65% knew the history of the land cultivated on, and 24-65% of the farms used either water from wells or city water as the main water source for their produce production. Approximately, 21%-45% of the growers had either a four-year degree or graduate degree. According to our results, fresh produce from small and medium-sized farms was contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Our results suggest that produce growers need to be trained and assisted in implementing Good Agricultural Practices on their farms. In the near future, only GAPs trained fresh producer growers will be in a position to compete in the fresh produce industry.

Subject Area

Food Science|Agriculture|Animal sciences

Recommended Citation

Jessica L Dompreh, "Fresh Produce Safety and growers' acquaintance with Good Agricultural Practices in Middle and West Tennessee" (2016). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10119100.