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FDA Expands Water Testing Options for Produce Growers

Water dripping from faucet in an outdoor produce packing area

The FDA has recently announced further flexibility for growers with respect to testing the agricultural water used for postharvest washing and cooling, hand washing, sanitizing food contact surfaces, and making ice. Water used for these purposes as described in § 112.44(a) must have no detectable generic E. coli in 100 mL.  With this announcement, FDA is recognizing a select number of less expensive water tests which determine presence or absence of E. coli as opposed to counting how many E. coli are present.  If you’re looking for a lab to conduct water tests, check out our interactive water testing map, which shows where labs are located who can conduct quantifiable water tests for preharvest agricultural water and presence/absence tests for postharvest and hand washing.

The newly approved presence/absence tests are:

  • TECTATM EC/TC medium and the TECTATM Instrument: A Presence/Absence Method for the Simultaneous Detection of Total Coliforms and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in Drinking Water. (2014).
  • Modified ColitagTM Test Method for the Simultaneous Detection of E. coli and other Total Coliforms in Water. ATP D05-0035. (2009).
  • IDEXX Colilert Test Kit
  • IDEXX Colilert-18 Test Kit
  • IDEXX Colisure Test Kit
  • E*Colite Bag or Vial Test for Total Coliforms and E. coli in Potable Water. Charm Sciences, Inc.
  • 101298 Readycult Coliforms 100. EMD Millipore (division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany)


Media Contacts

Faith Critzer, Associate Professor and Produce Safety Extension Specialist, 509-786-9203