Detection of fecal contaminants on leafy greens in the field will allow for decreasing cross-contamination of produce during and post-harvest. Fecal contamination of leafy greens has been associated with Escherichia coli
) O157:H7 outbreaks and foodborne illnesses. In this study, passive field spectroscopy measuring reflectance and fluorescence created by the sun’s light, coupled with numerical normalization techniques, are used to distinguish fecal contaminants on spinach leaves from soil on spinach leaves and uncontaminated spinach leaf portions. A Savitzky-Golay first derivative transformation and a waveband ratio of 710:688 nm as normalizing techniques were assessed. A soft independent modelling of class analogies (SIMCA) procedure with a 216 sample training set successfully predicted all 54 test set sample types using the spectral region of 600–800 nm. The ratio of 710:688 nm along with set thresholds separated all 270 samples by type. Application of these techniques in-field to avoid harvesting of fecal contaminated leafy greens may lead to a reduction in foodborne illnesses as well as reduced produce waste.
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