Composted or heat-treated Biological Soil Amendments of Animal Origin (BSAAO) can be added to soils to provide nutrients for fresh produce. These products lower the risk of pathogen contamination of fresh produce when compared with use of untreated BSAAO; however, meteorological conditions, geographic location, and soil properties can influence the presence of pathogenic bacteria, or their indicators (e.g., generic E. coli) and allow potential for produce contamination. Replicated field plots of loamy or sandy soils were tilled and amended with dairy manure compost (DMC), poultry litter compost (PLC), or no compost (NoC) over two different field seasons, and non-composted heat-treated poultry pellets (HTPP) during the second field season. Plots were inoculated with a three-strain cocktail of rifampicin-resistant E. coli (rE.coli) at levels of 8.7 log CFU/m2. Direct plating and most probable number (MPN) methods measured the persistence of rE.coli and Listeria spp. in plots through 104 days post-inoculation. Greater survival of rE. coli was observed in PLC plots in comparison to DMC plots and NoC plots during year 1 (P < 0.05). Similar trends were observed for year 2, where rE. coli survival was also greater in HTPP amended plots (P < 0.05). Survival of rE. coli was dependent on soil type, where water potential and temperature were significant covariables. Listeria spp. were found in NoC plots, but not in plots amended with HTPP, PLC or DMC. Radish data demonstrate that PLC treatment promoted the greatest level of rE.coli translocation when compared to DMC and NoC treatments (P  < 0.05). These results are consistent with findings from studies conducted in other regions of the US and informs Northeast produce growers that composted and non-composted poultry-based BSAAO supports greater survival of rE. coli in field soils. This result has the potential to impact the food safety risk of edible produce grown in BSAAO amended soils as a result of pathogen contamination.

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