Controlling microbes

Human and plant pathogens include bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Human and plant pathogens are generally separate groups.

With a very few exceptions (eg. Aspergillus sp.),

the microbes that cause postharvest rots and disease do not cause human illness,

....... and vice-versa.

Human pathogens are the most important to manage and control. These include bacteria and viruses that naturally live in the gut of mammals, such as Eschericia coli, Salmonella sp., Listeria monocytogenes and Hepatitis. The recently published Guidelines on Fresh Produce Food Safety 10 (Fresh Produce Safety Centre, September 2015) provides detailed guidance on reducing the risk of contamination of fresh vegetables during harvest, packing and other postharvest operations. All vegetable supply chain businesses should have a plan in place (eg Freshcare, SQF2000, GlobalGAP) to ensure that their produce is safe to eat.

Plant pathogens cause postharvest loss of quality and waste. In many cases disease symptoms exhibited during transport and retail are the result of infections that occurred well before harvest. With few chemical controls available for use on vegetables, it is important to understand how infection occurs and how growth may be reduced, if not prevented.