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Testing requirements and results on water for fruit and vegetables under the Produce Safety Regulation
Proceedings of the 2022 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2022 Authors: Abdallah-Ruiz A., Bond R.F., Silva J.L.

The US Food and Drug Administration has a new regulation as part of their Food Safety Modernization Act, titled "Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption." Under this rule there is a subpart proposed titled "Agricultural Water." The rule states that farmers should evaluate risks associated with water as a possible source of contamination of product that will reach commerce and develop mitigation strategies to minimize these risks. Water has been known to be the source of many produce foodborne outbreaks. Water has been implicated as the possible vector of E. coli STEC (O157:H7) in romaine and other leafy greens, affecting the health of many consumers, leading to hospitalization and death in some cases. One of the factors is the source of water and possible contamination sources. Testing of the water source and at any other points could help assess the quality/safety of it and whether mitigation strategies are needed. The analyte to test, whether it is well or surface water, is E. coli. Sampling and testing procedures approved usually follow those approved by EPA for recreational waters. In addition, farmers can test for possible pathogens that may be in the water. Limited testing has shown that well water usually meets the desired quality (GM and STV of 126 and 410 CFU or MPN/ml in 100 ml, respectively). However, surface water samples at times do not meet the criteria for E coli and have been found positive for some pathogens (Salmonella most often).

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