Effect of pesticide application on Salmonella survival on inoculated tomato leaves


Outbreaks of Salmonellosis have been traced to contaminated tomato. The produce production environment poses a risk for Salmonella contamination; however, little is known about the effects of pest management practices on Salmonella during production. The study objective was to evaluate pesticide application on the inactivation of Salmonella on tomato leaves. Thirty greenhouse-grown tomato plants were inoculated with S. enterica serovars Newport or Typhimurium. Inoculation was performed by dipping tomato leaves in an 8-log CFU/mL Salmonella suspension with 0.025% (vol/vol) Silwet L-77 surfactant for 30 s, for a starting concentration of 6–7 log CFU/mL. Plants were treated with one of four pesticides, each with a different mode of action [acibenzolar- S-methyl, copper-hydroxide, peroxyacetic acid (PAA), and streptomycin]. Pesticides were applied at manufacturers' labeled rate for plant disease management with water as a control treatment. Salmonella was enumerated at 0.125 (3 h), 2, 6, and 9 days post-inoculation (dpi), and counts log-transformed. Growth of Salmonella was not observed. At 2 dpi, PAA and streptomycin significantly reduced surface Salmonella concentrations of inoculated tomato leaves (0.7 and 0.6-log CFU/g, respectively; p ≤ 0.05), while significant Salmonella log reduction occurred in the ground tomato leaves after copper hydroxide treatment (0.8-log CFU/g; p ≤ 0.05), compared to the control. No significant differences in Salmonella populations on tomato leaf surface and in ground leaves were observed from 2 to 9 dpi, regardless of pesticide application. These findings suggest single in-field pesticide applications may not be an effective mitigation strategy in limiting potential Salmonella contamination. Future research, including multiple in-field pesticide applications, or pesticide use in combination with other mitigation strategies, may offer intriguing management practices to limit possible preharvest contamination.