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D. How Scientists Monitor the Quality & Safety of Fresh Produce

Narrator: This is Science Today. University of California-based scientists and specialists are working with California growers, processors and livestock producers to figure out just how E.coli contamination occurs in agricultural systems. The goal is to prevent the deadly outbreak that occurred in spinach last year. Postharvest specialist Trevor Suslow of the University of California , Davis , has been working with farm advisors for the past five years on E.coli- related projects, looking at different components of postharvest quality and safety for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Suslow: We initiated a three-year study looking at a little over twenty different on-farm reservoirs up and down the Salinas Valley and really characterizing them for the kinds of microbial water quality indicators and then suggest both sampling methodology and sampling frequency and how that related to pathogen levels. In this case, in all of the three years of testing, we've not found detectable levels of pathogens in the water.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.