Source: Purdue University

E. coli can live for weeks around the roots of produce plants and transfer to the edible portions, but the threat can be minimized if growers don't harvest too soon, a Purdue University study shows.


Purdue scientists added E. coli to soil through manure application and water treated with manure and showed that the bacteria can survive and are active in the rhizosphere, or the area around the plant roots, of lettuce and radishes. E. coli eventually gets onto the aboveground surfaces of the plants, where it can live for several weeks. Activity in the rhizosphere was observed using a bioluminescent E. coli created by Bruce Applegate that glows when active. Applegate, a co-author on the project, is an associate professor in the food science and biological sciences departments at Purdue. 

Original news release