Occurrence of Escherichia coli, noroviruses, and F-specific coliphages in fresh market-ready produce

Paul B. Allwood, Yashpal S. Malik, Sunil Maherchandani, Kevin Vought, Lee Ann Johnson, Craig Braymen, Craig W Hedberg, Sagar M Goyal

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45 Scopus citations


Forty samples of fresh produce collected from retail food establishments were examined to determine the occurrence of Escherichia coli, F-specific coliphages, and noroviruses. An additional six samples were collected from a restaurant undergoing investigation for a norovirus outbreak. Nineteen (48%) of the retail samples and all outbreak samples were preprocessed (cut, shredded, chopped, or peeled) at or before the point of purchase. Reverse transcription-PCR, with the use of primers JV 12 and JV 13, failed to detect norovirus RNA in any of the samples, All six outbreak samples and 13 (33%) retail samples were positive for F-specific coliphages (odds ratio undefined, P = 0.003). Processed retail samples appeared more likely to contain F-specific coliphages than unprocessed samples (odds ratio 3.8; 95% confidence interval 0.8 to 20.0). Only two (5.0%) retail samples were positive for E. coli; outbreak samples were not tested for E. coli. The results of this preliminary survey suggest that F-specific coliphages could be useful conservative indicators of fecal contamination of produce and its associated virological risks. Large-scale surveys should be conducted to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2387-2390
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004


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