Researchers help onion producers reduce Salmonella risks

Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Researchers help onion producers reduce <em>Salmonella </em>risks

Salmonella contamination of bulb onions caused recalls across the US and Canada in 2020, so the focus of a Texas A&M AgriLife Research project is to help onion producers solve the problem.

Over the next two years, the researchers plan to develop an onion-specific risk reduction to mitigate further outbreaks and recalls. The team will base its recommendations on studies of different genetic backgrounds of Salmonella.

Until now little has been known about Salmonella’s behaviour related to bulb onions, but these recent outbreaks in red onions and onion products show that the pathogen might persist during production, handling or storage. This is a significant concern to the onion produce industry.

Industry tools emerging from the research will include new guidelines for effective Salmonella management in onions; identification of varieties and practices to fight Salmonella persistence; and new capacity to identify supply chain factors that allow Salmonella to persist in bulb onions.

“By developing a roadmap for safe production practices, we can show Salmonella’s presence in the onion supply chain,” said Vijay Joshi, PhD, AgriLife Research assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences and systems physiologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde. “We can minimise the risk of both pre- and post-harvest contamination, creating better assurance of safe produce across the supply chain.”

The research team has received more than $400,000 in grant support from the Center for Produce Safety.

Image credit: © Africa

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