Evaluation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Compliance by Small Farmers in Kentucky: Assessing Microbial Quality of Produce
Avinash M. Topè, Phyllis F. Rogers, Alexandra C. Hitter

In recent years the number of bacterial food-borne outbreaks associated with contaminated produce has increased substantially. Escherichia coli(E.coli) continues to contribute to the majority of foodborne illnesses. With more small farmers starting organic production and given a wide range of organic production practices, there is a vulnerable segment which demands continuous microbial safety assessments. In the current study, twenty small produce farms from fourteen counties in Kentucky participated in a survey outlining farmers’ procedures during their routine operations. These farms were visited three times, during the pre-growing, harvest, and post-harvesting seasons. A total of 59 produce samples were collected from 16 organic and 4 conventional farms, respectively. No differences were observed in the percentage of produce contaminated with E. coli between the organic (25%) and conventional (26.3%) practices. However, 45.5% of produce grown at and below the surface was contaminated with E.coli while 13.5% of the produce that grows above the surface was found to be contaminated. Most of the contamination was correlated with fields that were fertilized with manure in the past 90 days or less. Findings of the study were shared with participating farmers and they were counseled on Good Agricultural Practices.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaes.v3n4a3