Comparison of the Microbiological Quality of Environmentally Friendly and Conventionally Grown Vegetables Sold at Retail Markets in Korea

Jee Hoon Ryu, Minju Kim, Eun Gyeong Kim, Larry R. Beuchat, Hoikyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Fresh produce is usually eaten raw without cooking or heating, which may increase the probability of foodborne infection. The microbiological quality of 11 types of fresh, raw vegetables (romaine lettuce, sesame leaves, crown daisy, garlic chives, iceberg lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, leek, chili pepper, capsicum, and zucchini) purchased at retail markets in Iksan, Korea as affected by cultivation method (environmentally friendly vegetables [organic, pesticide-free, and low-pesticide vegetables] and conventionally grown vegetables) and harvest season was determined. Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella were not detected in all samples of vegetables tested. Aerobic mesophiles (>6 log cfu/g) were detected in environmentally friendly romaine lettuce and crown daisy and environmentally friendly and conventionally grown garlic chives, which also contained coliforms (>3 log cfu/g). Sesame leaf and crown daisy (regardless of cultivation method), as well as conventionally grown romaine lettuce and leek, contained >1 log cfu/g of E. coli. The overall microbiological quality of environmentally friendly and conventionally grown vegetables was not significantly different (P > 0.05). However, there were seasonal effects on populations of coliforms and generic E. coli on vegetables. The greatest numbers of microorganisms were isolated from environmentally friendly or conventionally grown vegetables purchased in winter. The vegetables, regardless of cultivation method or season, should be subjected to appropriate antimicrobial treatment to enhance their microbial safety. Practical Application: The results indicate that fresh vegetables purchased at retail markets, regardless of cultivation method, have similar microbiological quality and those purchased in winter, compared to fall or spring, contained more coliforms and E. coli. Some vegetable samples are contaminated with high microbial population (mesophiles, coliforms, or E. coli). These findings support significance of appropriate washing or sanitation of fresh produce during processing or prior to consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)M1739-M1744
JournalJournal of Food Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 1


  • Conventionally grown produce
  • Environment friendly
  • Fresh produce
  • Microbiological quality
  • Organic produce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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