Farmers who re-use containers are running a risk that they will bring diseases such as plum pox virus on their farms, says Keith Warriner who led a study from the University of Guelph.
Those risks are greater than the threat to human health, he says.
Yet people could be sickened by some of the bacteria he found, such as E. coli.
More troubling is that the percentage of contaminated containers has increased since he conducted his first survey and the industry said it would step up measures to sanitize containers.
This new study found some improvements, including fewer damaged containers, and found that Ontario RPCs were cleaner than those in Quebec.
“However, the same issue of labels from previous users and high microbial counts persists,” the report says.
“Growers could reject any crates at the point of delivery, but retailers need to do more to ensure standards are being met. Retailers are the ones demanding crates be used.”