Foodborne illness from fresh fruit is caused by bacterial pathogens. They originate in the guts of animals and humans and are passed into the environment in fecal material. The pathogens, which are too small to see with the naked eye, land on the surface of fruit items in a variety of ways:
- On the hands of pickers and handlers
- In irrigation, run-off, and wash water
- By direct contact with animals, insects and birds
- Contact with soil harboring microorganisms
- By cross contamination in harvesting, handling, processing, storage facilities and transport.