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Research minimizes effects of Federal produce standards on mushroom industry

Strict requirements on the use of animal manures in fresh produce production imposed by the new federal food-safety law threatened to adversely impact the mushroom industry, which relies on horse and poultry manure for a specialized growth substrate. But a new study by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences shows that heat generated during the traditional composting process -- originally developed to kill insect and fungal pests of mushrooms -- is adequate for eliminating human pathogens that might be present. As a result of those findings, which were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Food Protection, there will be no restrictions on the mushroom industry composting process, noted co-author Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science and Penn State Extension specialist in farm food safety.

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