DOI: 10.1111/jfs.13100 ISSN: 0149-6085

Adhesion to and survival of foodborne pathogens in produce and strategies for their biocontrol

Jeannette Barba‐León, Aurora Dolores Arista‐Regalado, Lilia Mercedes Mancilla‐Becerra, Mario Alberto Flores‐Valdez, Delia Guillermina González‐Aguilar
  • Microbiology
  • Food Science
  • Parasitology


Foodborne pathogens can cause gastrointestinal infections in consumers and in some cases can even lead to outbreaks. In the last decade, it has been observed that some zoonotic pathogenic bacteria can use plants as secondary hosts. Contamination with foodborne bacteria becomes relevant in foods that are regularly eaten raw, such as lettuce, cilantro, fenugreek, rocket leaves, basil, and so forth, and some fruits such as tomatoes, melons, and green peppers; because the elimination of these pathogenic bacteria is difficult to achieve with conventional sanitization processes. Contamination of produce can occur throughout the entire production chain. In farmlands, pathogenic bacteria can contaminate the seed, mainly when contaminated water is used for irrigation. Later, bacteria can reach other plant tissues such as the stems, leaves, and fruits. Another form of contamination is when the produce is in contact with feces from domestic, production, or wild animals. Additionally, poor handling practices during harvest, packaging, distribution, and sale can contaminate produce. Studies have shown that foodborne pathogens can adhere to produce, sometimes forming a biofilm, and can also be internalized into the plant or fruit, which protects them from sanitation processes. For this reason, in this text we address three biocontrol strategies such as bacteria, lytic bacteriophages, and some fungi, as an alternative approach for the control of both foodborne and plant pathogens. Additionally, the use of these biological agents can represent an advantage for the development of the plant, making them a good strategy to favor yield.

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