Comparative Microbial Character of Consumed Food in Drinking Water

The Issue

Water and food contain a natural autochthonous flora known as Heterotrophic Plate Count (HPC) bacteria. All scientific studies regarding the pathogenicity of HPC bacteria document that they do not cause human disease. The paper discusses the incidence of HPC in water and compares it to microorganisms of public health significance on raw, unprocessed vegetables.

Research Strategy

A peer-reviewed scientific research paper was prepared representing a comparative analysis of the microbial content of food.

Major Findings and Significance

Drinking water does not support the growth of pathogens. Food, which contains significant protein, sugar, and salt, can amplify pathogens. Accordingly, virtually all food sources contain hundreds of thousands more bacteria than drinking water. These include HPC, indicators (such as fecal contamination like Escherichia coli and enterococci), and pathogens themselves. Therefore, public health regulations should not be directed toward addressing naturally occurring autochthonous bacteria (HPC), but should be directed toward controlling pathogens through animal, crop, and process management. Food possesses a manifold greater risk than drinking water, and government agencies should take this fact into account when writing regulations.

Wadhwa, S.G., Khaled G.H., and Edberg, S.C., Comparative Microbial Character of Consumed Food and Drinking Water. Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 2002.