Preharvest and Harvest Conditions

Relatively little definitive information on sources of human pathogen contamination of melons is available. The FDA suggested that preharvest contamination of Mexican melons with human pathogens may have resulted from use of sewage-contaminated irrigation water [10]. Irrigation water, transported over long distances and distributed to farms through open and unprotected aqueducts and channels, may become contaminated by animal or human activity (Table 10.1). Other potential sources may be from feces of birds [28,29], reptiles [5], or other wildlife in fields, or exposure to airborne contamination. The latter scenario was demonstrated by Annous et al. [30] in studies conducted in an apple orchard in close proximity to a pasture. Animal production activity was observed by one of the authors within several miles of melon production locations in California and Mexico. However, the limits of airborne distribution and survival of human pathogens attached to aerosols has not been reported. Suslow [31] was unable to recover salmonella from more than 900 individual field-collected melons produced in different regions of California during 1999-2001. It may be that contamination events in some

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