Chapter 5 : Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?

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This chapter focuses on understanding and addressing the food safety needs of the fresh-cut-produce sector. The properties that make fresh-cut fruits and vegetables unique also pose equally unique challenges for their commercial development. Temperature control is an important factor for maintaining the quality and shelf lives of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Vegetable commodities include tomato, zucchini, pepper, sweet potato, and jicama. In contrast to those of the whole-produce commodity, shelf life and microbiological safety of fresh-cut produce are severely jeopardized when the produce is stored at temperatures permissive of bacterial growth (above 4№C). Another factor that is crucial to the microbiological safety of fresh-cut produce is the sanitization of equipment and containers used for cutting, dicing, and storage. Bacteriophages possess attributes to control foodborne pathogens in a novel manner by infecting bacterial cells, lysing the cells, and liberating more phage, which in turn can infect the surrounding target bacterium population. Among the greatest concerns with human pathogens on fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are enteric pathogens (e.g., O157:H7 and ) that have the potential for growth prior to consumption, have low infective doses, or grow under refrigeration storage conditions (e.g., ). Future changes to enhance food safety of ready-to-eat fresh-cut fruits and vegetables require a better understanding of risks associated with microbial adaptation to stress tolerance and higher economic incentives for producers to implement better sanitation strategies.

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 1

Incidence of common foodborne cases in the FoodNet catchment area ( ). Data were computed based on the total number of reported cases during the period from 1996 to 1998 (1997 to 1998 for parasitic pathogens) divided by the total number of person-years under surveillance. Incidence rates for O157:H7, , and infections are expressed as cases per 100,000 persons; those for , , and parasitic-pathogen infections are expressed as cases per 1,000,000 persons.

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 2

Economic gains versus food safety as a result of improved packaging technology.

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 3

Real-time temperature profile of a typical lettuce shipment from field to consumers. (Data courtesy of S. Koseki et al., National Food Research Institute, Ibaraki, Japan.)

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 4

Figure 4 Visual quality of fresh-cut apple slices after 7 days of storage at 5°C. Apple slices were treated with either commercial preparations containing Ca ascorbate or Produce Quality & Safety Laboratory—Solution 2 (PQSL-2) wash solution or were left untreated (A. A. Bhagwat and R. A. Saftner, unpublished results; ).

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 5

Bacterial dilemma: to grow or not to grow. (Adapted from references , and .)

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 6

Acid resistance and infective doses of common enteric pathogens. serovar Typhimurium.

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 7

Survival of acid challenge by serovar Typhimurium after inoculation onto various solid supports ( ). Error bars indicate standard deviation.

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Figure 8

Gas production by biosensors. (A) Time course of gas production by a biosensor with repetition of temperature change between 5 and 10°C at 2-h intervals (♦) and with constant temperatures of 5°C (○) and 10°C (Δ). (B) Yeast biosensor with increasing gas production due to exposure to higher temperatures. (Reprinted from reference 90 with permission.)

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5
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Table 1

Glumatic aicd contents of various fresh-cut fruits and vegetables

Citation: Bhagwat A. 2006. Microbiological Safety of Fresh-Cut Produce: Where Are We Now?, p 121-165. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch5

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