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School of Engineering

Studying food contamination

Thursday, December 21, 2017
Assistant Professor Amy Pickering and colleagues found that unsanitary conditions in markets are a key source of produce contamination in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Fresh carrots

Food contamination presents a serious risk to global health. In 2010, the World Health Organization estimated that food pathogens have cost more than 25 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs, which are the number of years lost due to poor health, disability, or early death) across the world.

Assistant Professor Amy Pickering and colleagues from Stanford University and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research recently assessed and compared the concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria on the surface of produce obtained from both neighborhood retail markets and a wholesale market in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In research published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the researchers reported ultimately finding E. coli in 100% of carrot and red amaranth rinses, 92% of eggplant rinses, and 46% of tomato rinses. Their work suggests that unsanitary conditions in markets are leading to contamination post-harvest.