Produce farmers should wait at least 24 hours after a rain or irrigation event to harvest their crops, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Cornell University and just published in a scientific journal. Wet soil from precipitation is more conducive to growth of bacteria, such as Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli, according to the study. The researchers tested a variety of fields throughout New York state and found that the chance of finding Listeria was 25 times greater immediately after rain or irrigation. Waiting just 24 hours, however, resulted in Listeria presence dropping back down near baseline levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reportedly suggested that farmers implement wait periods before harvesting produce after irrigating fields. The study was funded by the Center for Produce Safety and published in this month’s edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
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