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Keith Schneider - foodborne pathogen survival in the environment

Keith R. Schneider, Professor at University of Florida, research focuses on foodborne pathogen survival in the environment, while his extension outreach efforts focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Because of the new regulation the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training program has been replaced by Produce Safety Alliance Grower trainings and Preventive Control Human Food training programs.

Dirt field with flag markers  Rows of crops

Many packinghouse operations use process-water as a means of moving products via flumes, prevent cross-contamination, and to clean the produce. It is therefore essential to evaluate packinghouse postharvest practices to ensure a minimal potential for cross-contamination by foodborne pathogens. Improper use of sanitizers in a packinghouse dump-tank and/or flume system may open pathways for pathogens to transfer from contaminated to uncontaminated tomatoes.  Example of research studies:

  • Pathogen survival in biological soil amendments of animal origin
  • Studies have been conducted that measured dump tank water quality parameters in tomato packinghouses, where organic matter content in the water was measured.  
    • Data showed that water quality in tomato packinghouses had COD levels as high as 800 ppm at the end of a six-hour shift.
    • Data also shows an increased potential of cross-contamination associated with high levels of organic loading
  • Other work has showed a significant reduction of Salmonella from washing even when no sanitizers were used. However, uninoculated tomatoes were often cross contaminated, especially when water organic loads were high. This potential cross-contamination will also be further studied in the current research project.

Apples on a conveyor belt