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News Article

Salmonella outbreak involving peaches: was dust to blame?

FDA investigation of an outbreak of Salmonella linked to peaches concludes the bacteria could have been transmitted to a peach farm in dust from neighouring farms.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests contamination with dust from a nearby livestock or poultry farm may explain an outbreak last year of Salmonella enteritidis associated with whole peaches. This is a new route of contamination for Salmonella on peaches if confirmed. At present the evidence isn’t conclusive as no direct link was found.

The multistate outbreak, linked to whole peaches, made over 100 people ill in August to October last year (2020). The peaches were traced to a large peach grower and packer, but the original source of contamination wasn’t established despite the analysis of over 700 samples from farms.

In an investigation reported in June, the FDA analysed peach fruits, leaves, and soil and packinghouse samples for Salmonella and carried out whole genome sequencing analysis.

The study implicated neighbouring poultry and cattle farms, although it did not connect the actual outbreak strain with the livestock operations. The strains of Salmonella on the peach leaves were closely related to historical cattle and poultry strains collected in 2018 to 2020. The FDA concludes dust from the operations could have carried the outbreak strain from the livestock operations to peach fruits.

Dust has been shown in previous research to carry Salmonella within farms and to be capable of airborne transmission.

Peaches are generally very safe to eat from a foodborne disease point of view. This was only the third time peaches had been implicated in a foodborne disease outbreak in the USA, according to the investigation report. Contaminated water on the farm, is a frequent source of outbreaks but peaches escape this as they do not develop close to the ground.

The FDA concludes: “Investigational activities and findings associated with this outbreak support FDA’s hypotheses about adjacent and nearby land use and possible routes of contamination in general and that fugitive dust may serve as a vehicle (route) of contamination to produce.”

The FDA recommends farmers assess risks form adjacent land use and apply preventative measures to reduce it, including testing samples preharvest.

Advice to consumers to prevent foodborne illness caused by Salmonella spp. is to wash hands, wash fruit and keep it cool and away from raw meat or seafood.


Find out more:

Search for: salmonella and (fruits or vegetables) and transmission

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I. Hoskins
  • Date
  • 18 June 2021
  • Subject(s)
  • Temperate fruits