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Prevalence and Concentration of Bacterial Pathogens in Raw Produce and Minimally Processed Packaged Salads Produced in and for The Netherlands

Wijnands, Lucas M., Delfgou-van Asch, Ellen H.M., Beerepoot-Mensink, Marieke E., Meij-Florijn, Alice van der, Fitz-James, Ife, Leusden, Frans M. van, Pielaat, Annemarie
Journal of food protection 2014 v.77 no.3 pp. 388-394
Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, Lactuca sativa var. capitata, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, cucumbers, endive, fresh produce, fruits, lettuce, microbial contamination, microorganisms, pathogens, public health, ready-to-eat foods, risk, salads, serotypes, surveys, Netherlands
Recent outbreaks with vegetable or fruits as vehicles have raised interest in the characterization of the public health risk due to microbial contamination of these commodities. Because qualitative and quantitative data regarding prevalence and concentration of various microbes are lacking, we conducted a survey to estimate the prevalence and contamination level of raw produce and the resulting minimally processed packaged salads as sold in The Netherlands. A dedicated sampling plan accounted for the amount of processed produce in relation to the amount of products, laboratory capacity, and seasonal influences. Over 1,800 samples of produce and over 1,900 samples of ready-to-eat mixed salads were investigated for Salmonella enterica serovars, Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli O157, and Listeria monocytogenes. The overall prevalence in raw produce varied between 0.11% for E. coli O157 and L. monocytogenes and 0.38% for Salmonella. Prevalence point estimates for specific produce/pathogen combinations ranged for Salmonella from 0.53% in iceberg lettuce to 5.1% in cucumber. For Campylobacter, this ranged from 0.83% in endive to 2.7% in oak tree lettuce. These data will be used to determine the public health risk posed by the consumption of ready-to-eat mixed salads in The Netherlands.