Progress 08/26/17 to 08/25/18
Target Audience:The audience of this research includes scientists and researchers working in the fields of agricultural economics, food safety, agricultural production, microbiology, water resource management and risk. Policy relevance of this research also makes the study important for professionals working on regulatory policies and in government agencies like the USDA and the FDA.The audience of this research includes scientists and researchers working in the fields of agricultural economics, food safety, agricultural production, microbiology, water resource management and risk. Policy relevance of this research also makes the study important for professionals working on regulatory policies and in government agencies like the USDA and the FDA. Changes/Problems:Unexpected departure of the graduate student starting fall of 2017 has slowed the progress of the project. A new graduate student has been recruited starting summer of 2018 and is working on building an empirical model for economic analysis. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?A graduate student in resource economics was funded for 3 months during the summer. A student researcher in microbiology was funded for 12 months at 0.5 FTE. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Current results and modeling framework were presented at the annual meetings of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in Washington DC 2018. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Next period will focus on developing an empirical model for testing the results obtained from the theoretical analysis.
What was accomplished under these goals?
Within the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, standards were proposed with specific procedures and guidelines for growing, harvesting, packing, and storage of fresh produce grown for direct consumption with the goal of reducing the risks to human health. The standards put in place regulations for the microbial populations limits of irrigation water that comes in contact with produce to be consumed without a kill step. These regulations require periodic testing of irrigation water for the determination and monitoring of populations of generic Escherichia coli (E. coli) as the indicator of potential microbial contamination of irrigation water (FSMA, 2014). It is recognized that many surface irrigation water sources in the western US regularly exceed these proposed generic E. coli limits (Dadoly and Michie, 2010). Therefore, the rules include a mitigation for microbial die-off to be applied to the population numbers attained after the last irrigation event. The mitigation involves delayed harvest or increased storage length to allow time for a microbial die-off which ensures that the produce is safe for consumption. In this project we examine the economic efficiency of microbial irrigation water quality rules in terms of achieving desired food safety improvement at lowest cost to consumers and producers. Economic modeling and microbiologic field experiments are used to generate insights about stochastic performance of the microbial irrigation water quality standards and testing requirements. We examine the tradeoffs between pre event costs of prevention (in the form of required water quality tests) and post event costs of response and recovery. The developed economic theoretical model examines efficiency of irrigation water quality standards with respect to changes in costs, preferences, producer cooperation and institutional framework. We also collect and examine water samples collected from throughout the Treasure Valley of Idaho and Eastern Oregon to assess the reliability of using generic E.coli as an indicator organism for presence of pathogens E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. To address objectives 1, 2, 3, and 4 a theoretical model was developed and presented at the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association annual conference in Washington DC. The theoretical model examines optimal irrigation water quality standards taking into account stochastic nature of irrigation water quality, costs of food contamination incidents, and costs or preventative standards. We show that in general the increase in the cost of water decreases irrigation water quality control efforts and decreases water use quantity; increase in the cost of irrigation water quality control decreases irrigation water quality control efforts and water use; increase in consumers' preference for food safety increases optimal water quality control efforts and water use; if consumer and industry prevention efforts are complementary (substitutes), then increase in consumer led prevention efforts will have a positive (ambiguous) effect on industry's optimal water quality control efforts and optimal water use. The model also examines the effect of cooperative vs. myopic producer behavior on irrigation water quality control efforts and water use. We also show that under strict liability a producer will choose the socially optimal level of water quality effort if the produce market is competitive. Under strict negligence the producer will comply with the predetermined water quality standard if the standard is lower than a threshold level and will act negligently according to strict liability otherwise. To address objective 5 water samples (100 ml) were obtained from irrigation sources in the Treasure Valley of OR and Idaho during the onion growing season of 2016 and 2017. Approximately 1 liter samples were obtained in 2018. Samples were collected from seven sites in 2018 including one groundwater source and were kept on ice and shipped overnight to the Schroeder lab. Sampling was stopped when irrigation was concluded at the end of the onion growing season and harvest had begun. The samples were assayed in triplicate for the presence of E. coli OH157:H7 and Salmonella species using an antibody latex agglutination test for E. coli O157:H7 (DR0620M, Oxoid Microbiology Products) and Salmonella spp (DR1108A, Oxoid Microbiology Products). In 2018, the individual who completed the sampling was not able to provide as consistent a supply of water samples as previous years. However, an effort was made to sample from locations used in previous years. Approximately, 1 liter samples were obtained from six irrigation locations one to three different times (depending on location) spanning the last month and a half of the growing season in the Treasure Valley. Since a 1 liter sample was available in 2018, this provided a larger volume of irrigation water to assay for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. using the antibody latex agglutination test. In addition, when time allowed the 2018 samples were processed in duplicate. The detected generic E. coli per 100 ml of irrigation water ranged from zero to 3 x 104 CFU per 100 ml of irrigation water. All sites were in compliance with the FSMA rules after allowing for die-off time with the exception of one location, OWY 303 in 2016. All the locations were in compliance in 2018. No generic E. coli were detected in the groundwater irrigation source and it was in compliance with the FSMA rules throughout the growing season. Only one sample, MAL 245, sampled on 8/13/18, tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 and no samples tested positive for Salmonella spp. This sample was retested with the antibody latex agglutination test for E. coli O157:H7 in triplicate and no positive samples were obtained for any of the replicates resulting in 1% of the samples testing positive in this study. Tests for the presence of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp. are not completed by the agricultural community nor are the monitored by state entities because that information is not required by FSMA to be in compliance.
Conference Papers and Presentations
Elbakidze, L , Y. He. Theoretical Analysis of Food Safety Modernization Act Regulations: Thresholds, Factor Complementarity, and Cooperative Solutions," annual meetings of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Washington DC, August 2018.
Progress 08/26/16 to 08/25/17
Target Audience:Academic pofessionals, researchers, extension professionals, local producers Changes/Problems:Unexpected departure of the graduate student starting fall of 2017 has slowed the progress of the project. A new graduate student will be identified and recruited to continue the efforts under way. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?One temporary graduate student was funded by the project for 2 semesters. Two food science undergraduates were trained to complete the microbial assays described above. One has since graduated and is employed in a cheese factory. The individual is responsible for completing microbial assays to determine that the products are free of human pathogens. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Attended the Idaho and Malheur County Onion Growers' Association Annual Meeting in February 2017 and verbally reported that no E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella spp. were detected in our sampling. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Recruit a graduate student to continue the project activities Water sampling will be completed again during the 2018 growing season. Samples will be assayed as described above.?
What was accomplished under these goals?
To address objectives 1, 2, 3 the economic framework for analysis is under development. The theoretical framework is based on the probabilistic nature of irrigation water quality and aims at maximizing welfare from agricultural production. The choice variables are quantity of irrigation water used and minimum water quality standard which would curtail quality of irrigation water below standard levels. The model examines the tradeoffs between investment in minimum irrigation water quality standard (e.g. maximum allowable levels of generic E. coli concentration) and benefits of improved food safety outcomes. To address objective 5 water sampling from 7 sites at seven time points throughout the growing season were completed. Samples were assayed in duplicate for total coliforms, facultative anaerobic, Gram-negative, non-spore forming bacteria, using the Lauryl Sulfate Tryptose test; confirmation of total coliforms using Brilliant Green Lactose Bile test; fecal coliforms, coliform bacteria that originate specifically from the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals (e.g., humans, farm animals, wild animals, etc), using the Escherichia coli test and generic E. coli using the Escherichia coli broth with 4-methylum beliferyl-R-D-glucuronide test. Samples were also assayed in triplicate using an antibody latex agglutination test E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella spp.. Populations of total coliforms ranged from less than 20 CFU to 65,000 CFU throughout the season. Populations of confirmed coliforms were the same. Populations of fecal coliforms ranged from less than 20 CFU to 35,500 CFU throughout the season. Generic E. coli populations ranged from less than 20 CFU to 33,000 CFU, with greater than 99% of the samples below 1300 CFU throughout the season. Finally, no human pathogens, E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella spp., were detected in any samples obtained in the 2017 growing season.