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Effects of packaging type and storage temperature on the growth of foodborne pathogens on shredded ‘Romaine’ lettuce

Oliveira, M., Usall, J., Solsona, C., Alegre, I., Viñas, I., Abadias, M.
Food microbiology 2010 v.27 no.3 pp. 375-380
romaine lettuce, Lactuca sativa var. longifolia, shredding, fresh-cut foods, food packaging, packaging materials, modified atmosphere packaging, food storage, storage temperature, permeability, storage time, pH, gases, aerobic conditions, food spoilage, bacterial contamination, psychrotrophic bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, microbial growth, Escherichia coli O157:H7, food pathogens, plate count
Fresh produce can be a vehicle for the transmission of pathogens capable of causing human illnesses and some of them can grow on fresh-cut vegetables. The survival and growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes inoculated onto shredded lettuce was determined under modified atmosphere packaging conditions, at various storage temperatures. We also monitored changes in pH and gas atmospheres within the packages and the growth of psychrotrophic and mesophilic microorganisms. After pathogen inoculation, shredded lettuce was packaged in films of different permeability and stored at 5 and 25 °C. After 10 days at 5 °C populations of E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella decreased approximately 1.00 log unit while L. monocytogenes increased about 1.00 log unit, in all package films. Moreover, the pathogens level increased between 2.44 and 4.19 log units after 3 days at 25 °C. Psychrotrophic and mesophilic bacteria had similar growth at both temperatures with higher populations in air than in the other atmospheres. The composition of the storage atmosphere within the packaging of lettuce had no significant effect on the survival and growth of the pathogens used in this study at refrigeration temperatures. The results obtained can be considered as a warning indicator, which reinforces the necessity for corrective measures to avoid contamination of vegetables.