Foodborne illnesses resulting from the consumption of produce commodities contaminated with enteric pathogens continue to be a significant public health issue. Lytic bacteriophages may provide an effective and natural intervention to reduce bacterial pathogens on fresh and fresh-cut produce commodities. The use of multi-phage cocktails specific for a single pathogen has been most frequently assessed on produce commodities to minimize the development of bacteriophage insensitive mutants (BIM) in target pathogen populations. Regulatory approval for the use of several lytic phage products specific for bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes in foods and on food processing surfaces has been granted by various agencies in the US and other countries, possibly allowing for the more widespread use of bacteriophages in the decontamination of fresh and minimally processed produce. Research studies have shown lytic bacteriophages specific for E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes have been effective in reducing pathogen populations on leafy greens, sprouts and tomatoes.
Keywords: Escherichia coli O157:H7; Listeria monocytogenes; Salmonella; bacteriophages; leafy greens; lytic; melons; produce; sprouts; vegetables.