Escherichia coli O157:H7 (EcO157) shed in cattle manure can survive for extended periods of time and intervention strategies to control this pathogen at the source are critical as produce crops are often grown in proximity to animal raising operations. This study evaluated whether neem (Azadirachta indica), known for its antimicrobial and insecticidal properties, can be used to amend manure to control EcO157. The influence of neem materials (leaf, bark, and oil) on the survival of an apple juice outbreak strain of EcO157 in dairy manure was monitored. Neem leaf and bark supplements eliminated the pathogen in less than 10 d with a D-value (days for 90% elimination) of 1.3 d. In contrast, nearly 4 log CFU EcO157/g remained after 10 d in neem-free manure control. The ethyl acetate extractable fraction of neem leaves was inhibitory to the growth of EcO157 in LB broth. Azadirachtin, a neem product with insect antifeedant properties, failed to inhibit EcO157. Application of inexpensive neem supplements to control pathogens in manure and possibly in produce fields may be an option for controlling the transfer of foodborne pathogens from farm to fork.
Keywords: Azadirachta indica; E. coli O157:H7; azadirachtin; bioscreen; dairy manure; neem; neem extracts; survival.