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An Assessment of the Microbiological Safety of Fresh Whole-Leaf Herbs From Retail Premises in the United Kingdom with a Focus on Salmonella spp.

Willis, Caroline and Sadler-Reeves, Lorraine and Elviss, Nicola and Aird, Heather and Fox, Andrew and Kaye, Moira and de Pinna, Elizabeth and Lane, Chris and McLauchlin, Jim (2015) An Assessment of the Microbiological Safety of Fresh Whole-Leaf Herbs From Retail Premises in the United Kingdom with a Focus on Salmonella spp. Journal of applied microbiology. ISSN 1365-2672.

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Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jam.128...

Abstract

AIMS

Fresh herbs have been associated with a number of outbreaks in recent years, in the UK and elsewhere. A study of fresh herbs was carried out to assess their microbiological safety in relation to Salmonella contamination and levels of Escherichia coli.

METHODS AND RESULTS

Between January and March 2014, 774 samples of ready-to-eat, fresh, whole-leaf herbs were collected from retail premises in the UK. Overall, Salmonella was detected in 9 samples (1.2%). Of these, five were curry leaves. Other herbs contaminated with Salmonella were basil (2 samples), walleria (1) and coriander (1). Escherichia coli was detected in 13% of samples, with 11% containing unsatisfactory levels (≥ 10(2) /g).

CONCLUSIONS

Whilst 88% of samples in this study were of an acceptable microbiological quality, the presence of Salmonella and/or elevated E. coli levels in 12% is a cause for concern. Curry leaves, in particular, had significantly higher rates of contamination with both Salmonella and E. coli than other herbs.

SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT

This study highlights the potential public health risk associated with the consumption of certain ready-to-eat fresh herbs, and the need for good hygiene practices and effective decontamination procedures during the growth, harvesting and subsequent handling of these products. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QW Microbiology. Immunology
Divisions: Clinical Support > Pathology
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Depositing User: Miss Adele Stanton
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2015 12:00
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2015 12:00
URI: http://www.repository.heartofengland.nhs.uk/id/eprint/988

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