Microbiological Quality of Organic and Conventional Vegetables in Brazil

Abstract: While searching for healthier diets, people became more attentive to organic produce. Yet, organic foods may be more susceptible to microbiological contamination because of the use of organic fertilizers, a possible source of pathogenic bacteria. In this study, 130 samples of different organic and conventional vegetable varieties sold in Brazil were analyzed for mesophilic aerobic bacteria, yeasts and molds, total coliforms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. Most of the mesophilic aerobic bacteria counts in organic and conventional vegetables ranged from 6 to 7 log10 CFU/g; most of the yeasts and molds counts ranged from 5 to 6 log10 CFU/g and most of the total coliforms counts ranged from 4 to 5 log10 CFU/g. E. coli was found in 41.5% of the organic and 40.0% of the conventional vegetables, and most samples had counts ranging from 1 to 2 log10 CFU/g. Salmonella spp. was not found in any sample. Comparative analyses of the microbial counts of organic and conventional vegetables showed that some organic varieties have greater counts. However, the global results show that this is not a trend. These results indicate the need of good farming practices, and proper sanitization before consumption, to ensure food quality and safety.

Reference: Maffei, D., et al. (2013). Microbiological quality of organic and conventional vegetables sold in Brazil. Food Control 29(1): 226-230. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2012.06.013