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Irrigation Water Sampling – Interpreting Results

Being able to read and understand lab results
from irrigation samples forms an important part of your on-farm food safety plan. Laboratory analysis of water samples for microorganisms
can take up to 48 hours, and results are generally returned within 1 week. Once you receive your results, review them
and note the values for Total Coliforms and E.coli. Water results for Total Coliforms less than
1000 bacteria per 100 mL and E-coli less than 100 bacteria per 100 mL are considered acceptable
for irrigation purposes. These values are based on risk, and identify
fecal contamination, but do not determine the presence of pathogens such as E.coli. Water used for washing and cooling of fresh,
ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables must be of potable quality with no detectable levels
of bacteria. This means the sample must have a value of
0 for both Total Coliforms and E.coli. To get a better sense of water quality over
time, sample water monthly to ensure water is suitable for its intended use. Reading results and identifying trends is
an important part of the sampling process but if you receive unacceptable results, troubleshooting
can help you identify the problem. Watch our next video to learn more.

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