Food safety: Dung beetles and soil bacteria reduce risk of human pathogens

phys.org | 3/19/2019 | Staff
applecup (Posted by) Level 4
Click For Photo: https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/gfx/news/hires/2019/foodsafetydu.jpg

Food safety regulations increasingly pressure growers to remove hedgerows, ponds and other natural habitats from farms to keep out pathogen-carrying wildlife and livestock. Yet, this could come at the cost of biodiversity.

New research published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology encourages the presence of dung beetles and soil bacteria at farms as they naturally suppress E. coli and other harmful pathogens before spreading to humans.

Wild - Pig - Faeces - Produce - Field

Wild and domesticated pig faeces have been known to contaminate produce in the field, leading to foodborne illnesses. Wild, or feral, pigs especially pose a risk of moving around pathogens as farmers cannot control where or when these large animals might show up.

Matthew Jones, who led the research as part of his Ph.D. project at Washington State University, said: "Farmers are more and more concerned with food safety. If someone gets sick from produce traced back to a particular farm it can be devastating for them."

Result - Habitats - Farm - Fields - Visits

"As a result, many remove natural habitats from their farm fields to discourage visits by livestock or wildlife, making the farmland less hospitable to pollinators and other beneficial insects or birds", he added.

Dung beetles bury faeces below ground and make it difficult for pathogens to survive. To study how this may aid food safety, the entomologist drove a van full of pig faeces along the US West Coast to follow the planting of broccoli at 70 farm fields during the growing season. Broccoli, much like leafy greens, is susceptible to faecal contamination due to its proximity to the ground and the likelihood of humans consuming it without cooking.

Pig - Faeces - Beetles - Experiment - Farms

The pig faeces were used to attract dung beetles and see how quickly they would clean up. The experiment was carried out at conventional and organic farms, and farms with or without livestock.

The organic farms seemed to attract a diverse range of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
Wake Up To Breaking News!
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome to Long Room!

Where The World Finds Its News!