We supply everything you need to start testing right away. Our laboratory equipment is top-notch, and we can keep you supplied to keep you testing. No more expensive and time consuming third-party commercial laboratory testing, simply have your in-house personnel perform product, environmental, and water testing.
We can set up your lab, train individuals, provide consumables, and prepare your facility to be certified to operate according to ISO 17025 standards.
AME Certified PCR Laboratories is committed to supporting controlled environment growers to achieve the best results in testing for bacterial and plant pathogens.
HSG-AME evaluates your facility testing needs so as to optimize the growing operations and the food safety program to protect consumers from illness and death.
The DNA analyzer equipment, ancillary tools, and test kits are installed by skilled professionals.
Instructors carefully teach and train your teams in the proven HSG-AME protocols and methods.
The laboratory and the technicians are certified to meet international standards by the HSG-AME auditors on an initial and periodic basis.
An independent audit agency recognized and authorized to issue ISO 17025 certifications can be engaged to review the lab and the team to grant this critical certification.
The HSG-AME DNA testing facility may also, using the same or similar methods empower your team members to monitor for harmful plant pathogens, such as "yeasts and molds" and pythium.
AME Certified PCR Laboratories (AME) supports the profitability enhancement of next-generation of farmers who are engaging Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) food production technologies.
CEA stakeholders are committed to innovative, state-of-the-art approaches to low CAPEX and OPEX systems, climate-smart, best growing practices, and sustainable agriculture.
CEA, along with other low/high-tech food production solutions, are systems which adapt to volatile climate change and market conditions while reducing operating costs while enhancing global food security.
AME supports CEA with on-site testing facilities (full environmental control and supplemental lighting greenhouse) operated by in-house personnel to screen for food and plant pathogens with fast, certified test results.
In-house testing incorporated in a "test and release" model benefits consumers and customers, regulation, suppliers and stakeholders by supporting the promise of bacterially safe food for human consumption.
Our Food safety consulting services include:
• FDA regulatory compliance
• Risk assessment
• Audit readiness assessments (HACCP, FSMA plan)
• Sanitation program development
• Gap Analysis for CEA food safety and quality programs
- Baby cos lettuces
• Leafy greens
• Vine crops
• Medicinal cannabis
• Flowering crops
• Fodder for livestock feed
• Apple trees
• Novel, game-changing agri-genomic enhanced plant varieties
-Drought and disease resilient
-Climate adaptable to maximize yields
-Improved growth yields
Indoor Soil Growing:
-Coconut fiber (coil)
-Rockwool (a material similar to an insulation batt with a channel of underneath water)
-Grodan AO Plug
-Grodan Cress Plate
-Without soil as a medium
-70% and 90% saving compared to conventional farming
-Continuous water filtration and disinfection
-N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique)
-Ebb & Flow (also known as Flood & Drain)
-Water Culture (also known as Deep Water Culture)
Indoor Vertical Farming
-Multi-level shelf production
-Stackable vertical farming modules (Container)
-Water sprayed with a nutrient solution mist
-Roots of the plant are suspended in air
-Uses 90% less water than some hydroponic systems
-Suspended root system in the air
-Water droplets/vapor (mist)
-Delivered to the stems, leaves and roots
-Aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponic
-Fast growing fish
-Tilapia, perch, catfish, trout, etc.
-Water can then be recycled back to the fish
Automated Planting and Processing
-From seeding to bagging
Turnkey CEA Operation Setups
- Full Project Management
Food Safety Compliance
-Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)
-Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
-Food Testing for human pathogens
-E. coli (EHEC)
The AME CEA Alliance Board supports Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) producers to increase of revenues and decrease operational costs through innovations in technology, methods, managerial advances the market demands so profits grow, year over year.
The advantages of the commercial-scale CEA industry are:
• Year-round production with up to 17 annual harvests
• Shorter time from seed to harvest with optimized growth cycles
-Not limited by the traditional, seasonal number of crop turns in outdoor grows
• Production not directly affected by weather and temperature events
• Uses less water than traditional farming
-No loss to evaporation or runoff
-All water is captured and re-used
• Close proximity to city centers, capable of feeding thousands of urbanites
-Lower transportation costs as compared to long-haul arrangements
-Urban buyers are enticed by local producers as a preference
-Outdoor real estate for traditional growing is reduced due to climate change
• Improved supply chain enablement
• Focused unit economics based on technology advancements
-High-yield, low-cost modular machineries
-Proven, efficient systems based on innovative greenhouse horticulture
• Greater resistance to pest infestation (Limited or no pesticides)
-Releasing of beneficial insects
-Preventive foliar applications
• Renewable, solar energy reduces power grid usage and costs
• Controlled air venting and exhausting to improve production
• CO2 injection venting for increased crop growth metrics
• High-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps for supplemental lighting
• Low electricity-consumption LED systems in focused nm ranges for each plant species
-Intensity (in µmol·m-2·s-1); Uniformity, Cost; Efficacy (in µmol·J-1)
• Scientifically modifying the light spectrum to increase plant seedling growth by species
• Consumers choose, appreciate, and prefer delicious, premium products of CEA growers
• Vendors can provide consistent supplier agreements assisting by minimizing supply chain shortages to:
• Almost 50% of new growers have no experience in agriculture, not valuing the difficulty of farming (Novices don't know what they don't know)--such as the operational challenges of keeping plants healthy and vigorous. They lack the depth of business experience and insufficient market research preparing to bring an ag operation to scale and maintain sufficient financial performance. Initial production methods, designs, technologies are flawed to generate immediate, sustainable profit. Often these factors result in big promises about ROI with unrealized conculsions.
• 68% of growers are salad green growers.
• 29% of respondents receive funding from multiple sources
• Commercial editors comment that vertical, indoor farming operational revenues, costs, and profits or losses should be compared against modern, high-tech hydroponic greenhouses, rather than conventional, open field outdoor grow operations.
In-house pathogen testing is becoming increasingly important in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry. CEA operations are a growing sector of the agricultural industry, and their popularity is largely due to the increased control and precision they offer growers. CEA operations allow growers to cultivate crops in controlled environments, such as greenhouses, hydroponic systems, and vertical farms, which can help to reduce environmental impacts and improve food safety.
Despite the many benefits of CEA, however, there are still challenges to be addressed when it comes to food safety. One of the most significant challenges is the potential for pathogens to contaminate fresh produce. The controlled environment of CEA systems can create ideal conditions for pathogen growth, and if left unchecked, pathogens can pose a serious risk to public health.
To address this challenge, many CEA operations are turning to in-house pathogen testing as a way to ensure that their fresh produce products are safe for human consumption. In-house pathogen testing involves testing samples of fresh produce for the presence of harmful pathogens using a variety of different methods. By conducting in-house pathogen testing, CEA operations can identify and address potential food safety issues before they become a larger problem.
One of the key benefits of in-house pathogen testing is that it allows CEA operations to have greater control over the safety of their products. By testing for pathogens in-house, growers can monitor their crops on an ongoing basis, rather than relying solely on periodic third-party testing. This increased level of control can help to identify potential issues early, allowing growers to take action quickly and minimize any potential risk to public health.
Another benefit of in-house pathogen testing is that it can be used in conjunction with a validated Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) program. HACCP is a system that is designed to identify and control potential hazards in the food production process. By integrating in-house pathogen testing with a validated HACCP program, CEA operations can ensure that they are following best practices when it comes to food safety. This can help to improve consumer confidence in their products, which can be critical for building a successful business.
There are several different methods of in-house pathogen testing that CEA operations can use, depending on their specific needs and resources. One common method is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, which can be used to identify a wide range of pathogens in a relatively short amount of time. Another method is enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing, which can detect the presence of specific pathogens in samples.
In conclusion, in-house pathogen testing can be a valuable tool for CEA operations looking to ensure the safety of their fresh produce products. By conducting ongoing testing and integrating it with a validated HACCP program, growers can minimize the risk of pathogen contamination and build consumer confidence in their products. As the CEA industry continues to grow, it is likely that in-house pathogen testing will become an increasingly important component of food safety in these operations.
Barak JD, Schroeder BK. Interrelationships of food safety and plant pathology: the life cycle of human pathogens on plants. Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2012;50:241-266. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-081211-173001.
Beuchat LR, Ryu JH. Produce handling and processing practices. Emerg Infect Dis. 1997;3(4):459-465. doi: 10.3201/eid0304.970408.
Brandl MT. Fitness of human enteric pathogens on plants and implications for food safety. Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2006;44:367-392. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.44.070505.143359.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks United States, 2016: Annual Report. 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/pdfs/foodborne-disease-outbreaks-annual-report-2016-508c.pdf. Accessed March 22, 2023.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Good Agricultural Practices for greenhouse vegetable crops. FAO, Rome, Italy. 2012. http://www.fao.org/3/i2454e/i2454e00.htm. Accessed March 22, 2023.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food Code 2017. US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC. 2017. https://www.fda.gov/food/fda-food-code/food-code-2017. Accessed March 22, 2023.
International Fresh-Cut Produce Association (IFPA). Best Practices for Handling Fresh-cut Produce. IFPA, Alexandria, VA. 2004. https://www.freshcutproduce.com/ifpa-best-practices. Accessed March 22, 2023.
Koutsoumanis K, Allende A, Alvarez-Ordóñez A, et al. Update of the list of QPS-recommended biological agents intentionally added to food or feed as notified to EFSA 9: suitability of taxonomic units notified to EFSA until September 2020. EFSA J. 2021;19(2):e06480. doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2021.6480.
Liao C, Luo Y, Liu J. Potential applications of nanotechnology in food safety. J Food Drug Anal. 2018;26(4):1201-1214. doi: 10.1016/j.jfda.2018.02.006.
Ma Y, Ryan L, Almshawit H, Forsythe S. Advances in biosensors for detection of pathogens in food and water. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019;26(11):10795-10811. doi: 10.1007/s11356-019-04808-7.
Matos JS, Bove CP, Morishita TY. Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis contamination of eggs from hens inoculated by vaginal, cloacal, and intravenous routes. Avian Dis. 2000;44(3):586-590. doi: 10.2307/1592868.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Food Safety. US Department of Agriculture. 2021. https://nifa.usda.gov/program/agriculture-and-food-research-initiative
Pao S, Davis RF. Microbial safety of fresh produce in recent years. Foodborne Pathog Dis. 1997;11(1):20-26. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2013.1546.
Podolak R, Enache E, Stone W, Black DG, Elliott PH. Sources and risk factors for contamination, survival, persistence, and heat resistance of Salmonella in low-moisture foods. J Food Prot. 2010;73(10):1919-1936. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X-73.10.1919.
Ragaert P, Devlieghere F, Debevere J. Role of microbiological and physiological spoilage mechanisms in texture degradation of cooked vegetables. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004;90(1):103-121. doi: 10.1016/S0168-1605(03)00282-5.
Rhee MS, Lee SY, Dougherty RH, Kang DH. Antimicrobial effects of mustard flour and acetic acid against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003;69(5):2959-2963. doi: 10.1128/AEM.69.5.2959-2963.2003.
Sapers GM. Efficacy of washing and sanitizing methods for disinfection of fresh fruit and vegetable products. Food Technol. 2001;55(11):85-92.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program. USDA, Washington, DC. 2018. https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/auditing/gap-ghp. Accessed March 22, 2023.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. FDA, Silver Spring, MD. 2017. https://www.fda.gov/food/guidance-regulation-food-and-dietary-supplements/guide-minimize-microbial-food-safety-hazards-fresh-fruits-and-vegetables. Accessed March 22, 2023.
Warriner K, Ibrahim F, Dickinson M, Wright C, Waites WM. Interaction of Escherichia coli with growing salad spinach plants. J Food Prot. 2003;66(9):1790-1797. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-66.9.1790.
Can CEA grown food products become bacterially contaminated despite strict entry/exit protocols, regularly implemented on-site sanitary procedures, physical measures such as face coverings, shoe coverings and gloves, maintaining a lean presence on-site?
Closed-environment agriculture (CEA) is a rapidly growing method of food production that offers several advantages over traditional farming methods, including increased yields, year-round production, and reduced water usage.
CEA systems are also more susceptible to bacterial contamination than traditional farms.
AME certified PCR laboratories installs in-house pathogen testing laboratories in CEA facilities to detect human and plant pathogens in CEA grow operations.
Bacterial contamination of food can occur at any point along the food chain, from production to processing to consumption. In CEA systems, bacteria can be introduced into the system through a variety of sources, including:
· The water used to irrigate the plants
· The air in the growing environment
· The people and animals who enter the growing environment
· The equipment used in the growing environment
Once bacteria are introduced into the system, they can quickly multiply and spread, leading to the contamination of food products.
Bacterial Contamination in CEA Systems
A number of studies have documented the potential for bacterial contamination in CEA systems. For example, a study by the University of California, Davis found that CEA-grown lettuce was contaminated with E. coli at a rate of 12%, compared to 2% for conventionally grown lettuce. Another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona, found that CEA-grown tomatoes were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes at a rate of 5%, compared to 0% for conventionally grown tomatoes.
AME Certified PCR Laboratories
AME certified PCR laboratories are a valuable tool for CEA growers who are looking to ensure the safety of their food products. AME certified PCR laboratories use state-of-the-art technology to detect pathogens in food products, even at low levels. This allows CEA growers to identify and remove contaminated food products before they are released to the market, preventing foodborne illness.
Benefits of Engaging AME Certified PCR Laboratories
There are a number of benefits to using AME certified PCR laboratories, including:
· Increased food safety: AME Certified PCR laboratories can help CEA growers to identify and remove contaminated food products, preventing foodborne illness.
· Reduced risk of recalls: By using AME certified PCR laboratories, CEA growers can reduce the risk of having to recall their food products due to contamination.
· Improved customer confidence: CEA growers who use AME certified PCR laboratories can improve customer confidence in the safety of their food products.
Bacterial contamination is a potential problem in CEA systems, but it can be prevented by taking steps to ensure the safety of the growing environment. By following the steps outlined in this article, CEA growers can help to ensure that their food products are safe for consumers.
Abarca, J., Lopez-Reyes, R., & Lopez-Malo, A. (2014). Listeria monocytogenes contamination of tomatoes grown in a controlled environment agriculture system. Food Microbiology, 41, 103-108. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0740002014000891
Breithaupt, F., & Knorr, D. (2018). Food safety in indoor vertical farming: A review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 77, 104-111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2018.07.002
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, September 19). Food safety tips for farmers markets. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-illness/farmersmarkets.html
Dimitriou, D., & Zabaniotou, A. (2019). Food safety in vertical farming: A review. Food Science & Biotechnology, 28(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10068-019-00564-z
Food and Drug Administration. (2018, March 15). Guide to produce safety. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-education/guide-produce-safety
Gupta, S. K., & Gupta, B. (2020). Food safety in vertical farming: A review. Food Science & Nutrition, 8(1), 1007-1015. https://doi.org/10.1002/fsn3.1400
Ibrahim, M., & Al-Amin, M. (2021). Food safety in vertical farming: A review. Food Control, 128, 108392. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2020.108392
Kohl, M., & Hammes, W. P. (2019). Food safety in vertical farming: A review. Journal of Food Science, 84(11), 2850-2860. https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.14689
National Center for Appropriate Technology. (2018, March 20). Closed-loop controlled environment agriculture: A guide for farmers. Retrieved from https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/freepubs/pdf/985.pdf
Zhang, Y., Zhang, X., Zhang, H., & Chen, X. (2016). Contamination of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in leafy greens grown in a controlled environment agriculture system. Food Control, 65, 175-179. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713515001871
Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) operations are increasingly utilizing in-house pathogen testing in order to assure that their fresh produce products are safe for human consumption.
CEA operations involve the controlled production of crops in greenhouses, vertical farms, and other indoor or protected outdoor settings, and they offer many advantages over traditional outdoor agriculture.
For example, CEA operations can reduce the amount of water, fertilizers, and pesticides needed to produce food, as well as increase yields and reduce the time to harvest.
However, in order to assure that the fresh produce produced in CEA operations is safe for human consumption, in-house pathogen testing must be conducted.
Pathogens are microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses.
In-house pathogen testing can help CEA operations quickly identify and eliminate potential sources of foodborne illness from their produce.
This type of testing typically involves the use of analytical instruments, such as PCR systems and chromatography systems, to detect the presence of foodborne pathogens in a sample. In-house pathogen testing offers several advantages for CEA operations. First, it enables CEA operations to quickly detect potential sources of contamination, allowing them to address any issues before the produce reaches
As the world population continues to grow, the demand for food increases as well. Vertical farming is a relatively new method of farming that has gained popularity in recent years. This method of farming involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers, usually in a controlled indoor environment. One of the key advantages of vertical farming is the ability to grow crops year-round, regardless of weather conditions. However, as with any farming method, there are risks associated with the potential for pathogen contamination. That's why in-house pathogen laboratories are becoming increasingly necessary for vertical farmers.
Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause disease in plants, animals, and humans. In a vertical farm, pathogen contamination can occur in many ways, including through contaminated seeds, soil, or water, or by pests or workers who introduce pathogens into the environment. Once introduced, pathogens can quickly spread throughout the farm, causing widespread crop damage and potentially endangering public health.
By having an in-house pathogen laboratory, vertical farmers can quickly and accurately identify any potential pathogens in their environment. This allows them to take action before the pathogens have a chance to spread and cause significant damage. Pathogen laboratories can also help farmers identify the source of the contamination, whether it's contaminated water, soil, or equipment. This information can help farmers take proactive steps to prevent future outbreaks.
Another benefit of in-house pathogen laboratories is that they can help farmers comply with food safety regulations. Many countries have strict regulations regarding the safety of food products, and vertical farmers who can demonstrate that their crops are pathogen-free have a significant competitive advantage in the market. Additionally, in-house pathogen testing can help vertical farmers identify potential problems early on, allowing them to take corrective action before it becomes necessary to recall their products.
Vertical farmers can also benefit from the use of modern pathogen detection technologies, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. PCR testing can quickly and accurately detect the presence of pathogens, even in low concentrations, without the need for traditional culturing methods that can take days or even weeks to produce results.
In conclusion, in-house pathogen laboratories are becoming increasingly necessary for vertical farmers. These laboratories provide farmers with the tools they need to identify potential pathogens, take proactive measures to prevent outbreaks, comply with food safety regulations, and provide their customers with pathogen-free products quickly and accurately. As the demand for food continues to grow, vertical farmers who invest in pathogen detection technologies will have a significant competitive advantage in the market.
Indoor food production is a growing trend that offers many benefits, such as year-round availability, reduced transportation costs, and lower environmental impact. However, indoor food growers also face challenges, such as the risk of contamination by human and plant pathogens. Pathogens are microorganisms that can cause diseases in humans or plants, and they can be introduced into indoor growing systems through various sources, such as water, soil, equipment, or human handling. Therefore, testing for pathogens is an important practice for indoor food growers to ensure the safety and quality of their products. This article discusses some of the main reasons why indoor food growers should consider testing for human and plant pathogens.
One of the primary reasons for testing for pathogens is to ensure food safety. Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, is often caused by consuming food contaminated by bacteria and/or their toxins, parasites, viruses, chemicals, or other agents (Foodborne Pathogens | FDA, n.d.). According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year in the United States, resulting in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths (Foodborne Pathogens | FDA, n.d.). Foodborne illness can occur when people eat or drink food or beverages contaminated with pathogens, chemicals, or toxins (Foodborne Pathogens | FDA, n.d.). Some of the common pathogens that can cause foodborne illness include Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium botulinum (Foodborne pathogens - PMC - National Center for Biotechnology Information [PMC], 2019). Indoor food growers may think that their controlled environments are free from pathogens, but this is not always the case. Pathogens can still find their way into indoor growing systems through contaminated water, soil, or even the handling of produce (How Food Gets Contaminated – The Food Production Chain [CDC], 2021). For example, if contaminated water or ice is used to wash, pack, or chill fruits or vegetables, the contamination can spread to those items (CDC, 2021). Similarly, if equipment or utensils are not properly sanitized or if workers do not follow good hygiene practices, pathogens can be transferred to the produce (CDC, 2021). Testing for human pathogens helps indoor food growers detect and prevent contamination of their products, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses and protecting public health.
Another reason for testing for pathogens is to comply with regulations and standards that may apply to indoor food growers. Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be regulations and standards in place that require indoor food growers to test for pathogens (Environmental Sampling | FDA - U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA], n.d.). These regulations are designed to protect public health and ensure that food producers are following best practices for food safety (FDA, n.d.). For example, the FDA has the authority to conduct environmental sampling of establishments where foods are produced to determine whether they contain harmful bacteria (FDA, n.d.). The FDA may collect samples from both food contact surfaces (e.g., slicers, mixers, utensils or conveyors) and non-food contact surfaces (e.g., floors, drains, carts or equipment housing) using sterile sponges or swabs (FDA, n.d.). The FDA may conduct environmental sampling for various reasons, such as investigating an establishment with a history of concern, inspecting an establishment with observed insanitary conditions, following up on the detection of a pathogen in a product sample, or conducting commodity-based assignments to assess the prevalence of certain pathogens across an industry (FDA, n.d.). By conducting regular testing, growers can demonstrate compliance with these regulations and avoid potential penalties or legal issues.
A third reason for testing for pathogens is to maintain quality control in indoor food production. Testing for pathogens is an essential part of quality control in indoor food production because it helps identify potential contamination sources and allows growers to take corrective actions to prevent further spread of pathogens (FDA, n.d.). By implementing testing protocols, growers can maintain a high level of quality and consistency in their products, building trust with consumers and buyers. Testing for pathogens also helps prevent crop losses that can result from pathogen contamination. Pathogen contamination can have devastating effects on indoor crops because it can cause diseases that can lead to significant crop losses (PMC, 2019). Testing for pathogens allows growers to identify and address contamination issues early on, preventing the spread of diseases that can reduce the yield and quality of their products (PMC, 2019). By implementing proactive measures based on testing results, growers can safeguard their investments and maintain a steady supply of healthy, marketable produce.
A fourth reason for testing for pathogens is to build consumer confidence. With increasing awareness and concern about food safety, consumers are becoming more discerning about the sources of their food. Indoor food growers who prioritize pathogen testing and can provide evidence of their efforts to ensure safety are likely to gain the trust and loyalty of consumers. Demonstrating a commitment to food safety can also differentiate growers from their competitors in the market. Consumers may prefer to buy from growers who can assure them that their products are safe and free from pathogens. Testing for pathogens can also help growers meet the expectations and requirements of buyers, such as retailers or restaurants, who may demand proof of food safety from their suppliers.
A fifth reason for testing for pathogens is to protect the environment. Pathogens can affect not only human health but also the health of plants and ecosystems (PMC, 2019). Indoor food growers who test for plant pathogens can identify and manage diseases that could harm their crops (PMC, 2019). By preventing the spread of plant pathogens, growers contribute to the overall health and sustainability of their growing systems, reducing the need for excessive pesticide use and promoting environmental stewardship (PMC, 2019).
In conclusion, testing for human and plant pathogens is crucial for indoor food growers to ensure food safety, comply with regulations, maintain quality control, prevent crop losses, build consumer confidence, and protect the environment. By implementing regular testing protocols, growers can mitigate risks and foster a sustainable and safe food production system.
CDC. (2021). How Food Gets Contaminated – The Food Production Chain. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/production-chain.html
FDA. (n.d.). Environmental Sampling | FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/sampling-protect-food-supply/environmental-sampling
FDA. (n.d.). Foodborne Pathogens | FDA. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/foodborne-pathogens
PMC. (2019). Foodborne pathogens - PMC - National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6604998/
References supporting the practice of indoor agriculture growers washing their finished products in order to ensure the food safety of the food products:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015). Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption: Final Rule. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-produce-safety
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Food Safety for Fruits and Vegetables. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/steps-to-safe-fruits-veggies.html
United States Department of Agriculture. (2019). Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/b29030c9-5d7a-49b1-8457-07b172c46f7e/Safe_Handling_Raw_Produce.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
World Health Organization. (2018). Five Keys to Safer Food Manual. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/five-keys-to-safer-food-manual
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019). Food Safety and Indoor Farming. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-indoor-farming
United States Department of Agriculture. (2022). National Organic Program. Retrieved from https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/nop
Global Food Safety Initiative. (2017). Benchmarking Requirements for Good Agricultural Practices. Retrieved from https://www.mygfsi.com/certification/benchmarking-requirements-for-good-agricultural-practices.html
International Association for Food Protection. (2018). Fresh Produce Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www.foodprotection.org/publications/fresh-produce-guidelines/
Park, S.H., & Szonyi, B. (2012). Effectiveness of washing procedures in reducing Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes on a raw leafy green vegetable (Eruca vesicaria). Journal of Food Protection, 75(11), 2017-2021. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article/75/11/2017/171918/Effectiveness-of-Washing-Procedures-in-Reducing
Beuchat, L.R., & Ryu, J.H. (1997). Produce handling and processing practices. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 37(1), 1-13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168160597000517
Allende, A., Selma, M.V., López-Gálvez, F., Villaescusa, R., & Gil, M.I. (2008). Role of commercial sanitizers and washing systems on epiphytic microorganisms and sensory quality of fresh-cut escarole and lettuce. Food Control, 19(12), 1072-1079. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713507003652
Deering, A.J., Pruitt, R.E., & Millner, P.D. (2012). Efficacy of various wash treatments and simulated cold storage on the survival and attachment of human pathogenic bacteria on spinach. Agriculture and Food Science, 21(2), 153-161. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1459919812000267
Brandl, M.T. (2006). Fitness of human enteric pathogens on plants and implications for food safety. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 44, 367-392. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.phyto.44.070505.143359
Hyeon, J.Y., & Jeong, S.G. (2018). Effect of washing with acidified electrolyzed water on the quality and microbial safety of lettuce in a domestic environment. Food Quality and Safety, 2(1), 1-6. https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/2/1/1/4843143
A sample decision tree process which an indoor vertical food production owner could consider before bringing pathogen testing in-house:
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-preventive-controls-human-food
CDC Foodborne Illness Surveillance: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/foodborne-germs.html
ELISA testing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578621/
Microbiological culture testing: https://www.fda.gov/media/109644/download
Quality control procedures: https://www.fda.gov/media/109842/download
Proficiency testing programs: https://www.aoac.org/certifications/pt-programs/
"Detection and Enumeration of Foodborne Pathogens" book by Pina M. Fratamico, Yanhong Liu, and Christopher H. Sommers: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Detection+and+Enumeration+of+Foodborne+Pathogens-p-9781119370315
"Food Safety: Pathogen Testing and Hazard Analysis" article by Kristen Brochu in Food Technology magazine: https://www.ift.org/news-and-publications/food-technology-magazine/issues/2021/march/features/food-safety-pathogen-testing-and-hazard-analysis
"Evaluation of Commercially Available Kits for the Detection of Foodborne Pathogens" article by Ming-Yi Chen, Yen-Te Chen, and Wen-Sui Lo in Journal of Food and Drug Analysis: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949812000332
"Rapid Methods for Detection and Enumeration of Foodborne Pathogens: A Review" article by Satya Prakash and Arun Kumar in Journal of Food Science and Technology: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-011-0365-0
"Performance Comparison of Culture-Based and Real-Time PCR Methods for Detection of Salmonella spp. in Food Samples" article by M. J. Jafari, M. Valizadeh, and M. Aminlari in Food Science and Technology Research: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/25/4/25_4_577/_article/-char/en
"Risk Assessment of Foodborne Pathogens in Food Production Facilities" article by Pilar Villacís-García, Vanesa Esteban-Cuesta, and Elisa Lazo-García in International Journal of Food Science: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijfs/2017/3840168/
"Detection and Control of Foodborne Pathogens" article by Hamed Esmaeilzadeh and Mehrdad Niakousari in International Journal of Food Science and Technology: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ijfs.13105
"Validation of Rapid Methods for Detection of Foodborne Pathogens" article by L. S. Amaral, L. F. Queiroz, and M. F. Franco in Food Control: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713514000975
"Pathogen Testing in Food Safety Management Systems: An Overview" article by Maricarmen Guerrero-Beltrán, Irma Cisneros-Zevallos, and Luis A. Rodríguez-Herrera in Journal of Food Science and Engineering: https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=99561
"The Role of Rapid Pathogen Detection Systems in Food Safety" article by Michael Koeris in Food Safety Magazine: https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/februarymarch-2016/the-role-of-rapid-pathogen-detection-systems-in-food-safety/
The use of vertical farming has grown exponentially in recent years as a means of growing crops in controlled environments. One of the main benefits of vertical farming is the ability to control temperature and humidity levels, which is typically achieved using an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system.
While the HVAC system plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy growing environment for plants, it can also inadvertently contribute to the spread of human and plant pathogens.
Human pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can spread through the air and can be transmitted by the HVAC system. In a study conducted by Bivins et al. (2019), it was found that airborne viruses can be transported over long distances through HVAC systems.
In addition, bacteria such as Legionella pneumophila, which can cause Legionnaires' disease, have been found in HVAC systems (Chen et al., 2014).
Plant pathogens, such as fungi and bacteria, can also be spread through the HVAC system. In a study by Hong et al. (2020), it was found that the use of an HVAC system increased the incidence of Fusarium wilt in tomato plants.
Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease that can cause severe damage to tomato plants.
To prevent the spread of human and plant pathogens in a vertical farming facility, it is important to properly design and maintain the HVAC system.
This includes regularly cleaning and disinfecting the system, ensuring proper filtration, and implementing measures to control the spread of airborne pathogens.
One effective measure is to use UV-C lights within the HVAC system. UV-C light has been shown to be effective at inactivating a variety of airborne pathogens, including bacteria and viruses (Kowalski et al., 2010).
Another measure is to implement a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system, which can capture and remove airborne pathogens (Lindsley et al., 2016).
It is also important to consider the placement of air intakes and exhausts in the facility to minimize the spread of pathogens.
Air intakes should be located away from sources of contamination, such as loading docks or parking lots, and exhausts should be directed away from populated areas.
In conclusion, the HVAC system plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy growing environment for plants in a vertical farming facility.
However, it can also contribute to the spread of human and plant pathogens.
Proper design and maintenance of the HVAC system, including the use of UV-C lights and HEPA filters, as well as careful consideration of air intake and exhaust placement, can help minimize the spread of pathogens.
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Chen, N. T., Chang, C. W., Lu, C. S., & Hsu, Y. M. (2014). Legionella pneumophila in cooling towers: Fluctuations of counts and evaluation of a control strategy. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 64(8), 911-917. https://doi.org/10.1080/10962247.2014.905645
Hong, S. S., Kim, H. K., Jang, Y. J., Lee, S. A., & Kim, B. S. (2020). Effect of HVAC system on the incidence of Fusarium wilt of tomato. Horticulture, Environment, and Biotechnology, 61(2), 243-250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13580-020-00243-9
Kowalski, W. J., Bahnfleth, W. P., & Whittam, T. S. (2010). Airborne bacteria and viruses. Scientific and Technical Reports, 7(4), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4001295
Lindsley, W. G., Blachere, F. M., Thewlis, R. E., Vishnu, A., Davis, K. A., Cao, G., ... & Beezhold, D. H. (2016). Measurements of airborne influenza virus in aerosol particles from human coughs. PloS one, 11(1), e0148667. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0148667
Luongo, J. C., & Sederoff, H. W. (2013). Vertical farming increases lettuce yield per unit area compared to conventional horizontal hydroponics. HortScience, 48(6), 732-736. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.48.6.732
Mortensen, L. M., & Struwe, S. (2019). Vertical farming: An overview and comparison of different systems. CAB Reviews, 14(023), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1742170519000117
Pattison, A. B., & Mitchell, C. A. (2013). Plant growth chamber handbook: An interdisciplinary guide to designing, building and maintaining plant growth facilities. Elsevier. https://www.elsevier.com/books/plant-growth-chamber-handbook/pattison/978-0-12-384871-8
Sanyal, S., & Pandey, S. (2019). Urban vertical farming: Challenges and prospects. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 16(6), 3071-3080. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-019-02348-8
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