One of the most common outbreaks is related to E. coli bacteria.
More and more people have become aware of its risks, raising questions regarding the safety of using animal manure in the vegetable garden.
Apart from this, animal manure could also contain Salmonella, Listeria, and others. These pathogens can cause diseases as they have direct contact with vegetables and fruits.
For people whose health is at risk, including patients suffering from cancer, chronic liver disease, diabetes, AIDS, children, pregnant women, and the elderly, consuming vegetables from manured gardens should be avoided at all costs.
Best Practices for using Animal Manure
However, there are a few practices recommended by experts in order to minimize the risks of disease transmission when using animal manure in your vegetable garden.
Firstly, you should compost the manure, which significantly reduces the number of pathogens.
If the compost is bought, you need to check the package as it should indicate if it is pathogen-free.
For home-made manure, it is vital to use a compost thermometer and ensure that the compost pile reaches 140°F when decomposing.
Gardeners should never use manure from pigs, cats, or dogs when nourishing their vegetable beds.
This is because parasites in these types of manure have a high likelihood of surviving and infecting people, compared to other types.
Pet owners should also be careful not to let their animals inside the vegetable garden.
There are other safe practices for other people who intend to use raw manure (as opposed to composted manure).
Firstly, raw manure should be applied a minimum of 120 days before harvest. Then, it is important not to use raw manure for growing plants.
Raw manure should only be used when it is incorporated and distributed throughout the earth, as this significantly reduces the chances of transferring pathogens to the growing crops.
Lastly, the health of the animals which provide manure is also crucial.
Some animals might suffer from parasites, or the farm might distribute frequent antibiotics to the animals.
These factors negatively affect the manure’s quality. It is essential to carefully assess the animals’ health before deciding to use their manure in your vegetable garden.
If the vegetables were treated with manure, a few guidelines should be followed after harvest.
When handling them, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap, especially when they are brought into the kitchen.
Then, all fruits and vegetables need to be properly washed before consumption.
Here is a video showing you how to do this safely and correctly:
There is a higher risk of contamination in the case of carrots, radishes, and other leafy vegetables; it is recommended to peel veggies when possible.
Thoroughly cooking veggies before consumption ensures that any remaining pathogens after washing are eliminated.
Finally, it is important to use clean, potable water not only for watering crops, but also to wash the vegetables.
The temperature of the water when washing veggies should be +/- 10 degrees F compared to the vegetables’ temperature.