Postharvest Biology and Technology vol:51 issue:2 pages:257-262
In this study, the cold chain and its impact on food stuff microbiology was evaluated for fresh-cut endive.
A survey was carried out to analyze endive temperature throughout the supply chain from producer,
via processor and distributor to the restaurant. Data loggers accompanying the endive on its route provided
a temperature profile of the endive. The effect of the outdoor temperature on initial cooling was
evaluated and critical points regarding cold chain management in the supply chain were identified. Our
experiments indicate that the cold chain is generally properly maintained. In parallel with temperature
monitoring, indicator microorganisms were assessed at different points in the supply chain to examine
the effects of endive temperature, temperature fluctuations, and the outdoor temperature on microbial
food safety. Small temperature fluctuations in the supply chain had a small effect on the total level of
aerobic mesophilic bacteria. However, at the best before-date, total coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae levels
were significantly higher in endive samples subject to temperature fluctuations in the supply chain,
compared to endive stored in optimal conditions. To our knowledge, this is the first study that combines
microbiological analysis with the temperature profile of fresh-cut produce in a realistic food supply chain.