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June 4, 1997

Does Organic Gardening Foster Foodborne Pathogens?-Reply

Author Affiliations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1680. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450036025

In Reply.  —The public health hazard of fresh fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces used as fertilizer is a longstanding concern. Early in this century, Creel1 called attention to transmission of typhoid fever bacillus via fresh produce contaminated with human sewage. In W. Somerset Maugham's 1925 novel The Painted Veil, a despondent microbiologist committed suicide during a cholera epidemic by eating a fresh garden salad that was understood to be grown with human sewage fertilizer. More recently, foodborne outbreaks of E coli 0157:H7 infection and of cryptosporidiosis in apple cider, juice, and lettuce have highlighted concern that foodborne pathogens present in animal manures might also find their way into fresh produce.2 This could happen directly, via use of insufficiently composted manure as fertilizer, or indirectly, through irrigation water or untreated wash waters that are contaminated with animal manures. A small outbreak of E coli 0157:H7 infection attributed to homegrown produce