Chapter 4 : Postharvest Handling and Processing Sources of Microorganisms and Impact of Sanitizing Procedures

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This chapter examines the conventional belief that high microbial populations in produce, intact or minimally processed, can be reduced to safe levels with disinfecting technology that is presently available. The concept of a highly efficacious disinfection strategy is supported by laboratory studies using various sanitizing agents and methods that have yielded impressive results, some even with reduction to undetectable levels. Warm (50°C) chlorine solutions delayed browning and reduced initial populations of several groups of microorganisms naturally occurring on iceberg lettuce but enhanced microbial growth during subsequent storage. The effectiveness of ozone gas for the inactivation of microorganisms on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables is influenced by concentration, exposure time, RH, temperature, microbial load, and surface properties of the commodity. When heat-treated apples were purposely injured and inoculated with pathogens, the postsanitation growth of microorganisms was greater. Microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria that are not usually affected by high CO levels tend to predominate when MAP is used, actually prolonging shelf life by producing compounds that can inhibit spoilage bacteria. A new potential treatment strategy focuses on antimicrobial substances produced by selected vegetables and microorganisms. The information captured in the chapter suggests that the efficacy of sanitizers depends on the type of produce, the microorganism present, and the application system. The popular misconception that postharvest treatments can function as killing steps for contaminated produce or as significant reducers of indigenous microbial populations is discussed in the chapter.

Citation: Fonseca J. 2006. Postharvest Handling and Processing Sources of Microorganisms and Impact of Sanitizing Procedures, p 85-120. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch4

Key Concept Ranking

Food Safety
Fruits and Vegetables
Foodborne Illnesses
Free Radicals
Mineral Acids
Lactic Acid Bacteria
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Lettuce for ready-to-eat salads is sprayed with chlorine solution immediately after harvest.

Citation: Fonseca J. 2006. Postharvest Handling and Processing Sources of Microorganisms and Impact of Sanitizing Procedures, p 85-120. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch4
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