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Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Vol. xx, No.
xx, 2014, Pages: xxxx

Survival and growth of foodborne pathogens in pesticide solutions routinely used in leafy green vegetables and tomato production

Shefali Dobhal, Guodong Zhang, Tom Royer, John Damicone and Li Maria Ma

National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity.



The consumption of fresh produce has increased tremendously in the past few years as have outbreaks of foodborne illnesses associated with these commodities. Pesticides routinely used in crop production could influence the outcomes of foodborne pathogen contamination of fresh produce. Experiments were performed to determine the effects of pesticides on the survival and growth characteristics of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. Eight commercial fungicides and insecticides commonly used for disease and insect pest control on leafy green vegetables and tomatoes were evaluated.


Among the pesticides tested, copper hydroxide, acetamiprid, cypermethrin and permethrin were found to be significantly (P < 0.05) inhibitory to pathogens while no effect was observed for chlorothalonil, flonicamid and methoxyfenozide. At the highest concentration tested (2.66%), azoxystrobin had a significant (P < 0.05) stimulatory effect on the growth of E. coli O157:H7 after 24 h incubation. The results indicated that some pesticides can stimulate the growth of human pathogens if contaminated water is used in their preparation, whereas others were likely to inhibit or reduce pathogen populations.


This information is helpful in mitigating the risk of microbial contamination in fresh produce, which is critical to public health and safety.

Keywords:Salmonella; Escherichia coli O157:H7; pesticide; foodborne pathogen; survival; growth.

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