ISHS International Conference on Quality Management of Fresh Cut Produce location:Bangkok, Thailand date:6-8 August 2007
The last decade, the consumption of fresh produce has increased significantly. However, consumption of fresh produce is coupled to an increased risk of exposure to microbial pathogens. To minimize the risk of food-borne diseases, the temperature of the fresh produce should be maintained below 5°C throughout the chain, i.e. from the farm to the consumer.
In this work, the cold chain was evaluated for raw fresh-cut endive. Identification of critical points in the chain should subsequently allow to circumvent temperature flaws in the cold chain. Therefore, a survey was carried out in the autumn and summer of 2005 and 2006, respectively, to analyze the temperature of endive throughout the chain from the producer, via processor and distributor to the retailer. Data-loggers accompanying the endive on its route from farmer to retailer provides a temperature profile of the endive. In addition, the effect of the outdoor temperature, the reproducibility of the cold chain, and the effect of the storage facilities in different restaurants was analyzed.
To analyze the effect of the temperature on microbial food safety, microbiological analyses were carried out at different points in the chain. The total count of mesophilic aerobic bacteria and two hygienic indicator parameters (Enterobacteriaceae and coliforms) were analyzed. In addition, the presence of pathogens Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes was examined. L. monocytogenes is an important indicator for the microbial safety of the ready-to-eat endive because L. monocytogenes is probably to most prevalent disease-causing micro-organism in soil.
Analysis of these microbial parameters at the “best before date”, enables to conclude whether average temperature, temperature oscillations, or other factors (such as outdoor temperature) throughout the cold chain is detrimental for microbial food safety.