Low Prevalence of Human Pathogens on Fresh Produce on Farms and in Packing Facilities: A Systematic Review

Amelia E. Van Pelt, Beatriz Quiñones, Hannah L. Lofgren, Faith E. Bartz, Kira L. Newman, Juan S. Leon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Foodborne illness burdens individuals around the world and may be caused by consuming fresh produce contaminated with bacterial, parasite, and viral pathogens. Pathogen contamination on produce may originate at the farm and packing facility. This research aimed to determine the prevalence of human pathogens (bacteria, parasites, and viruses) on fresh produce (fruits, herbs, and vegetables) on farms and in packing facilities worldwide through a systematic review of 38 peer-reviewed articles. The median and range of the prevalence was calculated, and Kruskal–Wallis tests and logistic regression were performed to compare prevalence among pooled samples of produce groups, pathogen types, and sampling locations. Results indicated a low median percentage of fresh produce contaminated with pathogens (0%). Both viruses (p-value = 0.017) and parasites (p-value = 0.033), on fresh produce, exhibited higher prevalence than bacteria. No significant differences between fresh produce types or between farm and packing facility were observed. These results may help to better quantify produce contamination in the production environment and inform strategies to prevent future foodborne illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Feb 23 2018


  • farm
  • farm-to-fork
  • fruit
  • herb
  • packing facility
  • pathogen
  • vegetable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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