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Microbial Quality of Foods Produced by an Enhanced Cook-Chill System in a Hospital

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A total of 1,137 samples representing 77 cook-chill food products were analyzed during a 27-month period. Vacuum-packaged food samples from the same production batch of regular diets or products modified for low sodium, low fat, diabetic, or strained diets were analyzed before and after storage at 1 ± 1°C for up to 21 days in a hospital's food bank. Samples were analyzed for aerobic counts at 26°C and 35°C and for coliforms, staphylococci, Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria spp., Salmonella spp. and Staphylococcus aureus. None of the samples contained C. perfringens, E. coli, E. coli O157:H7, or Salmonella. Listeria was isolated from one production batch of asparagus which had been inadequately heated and cooled due to overloading of the vat. S. aureus was isolated (<100 CFU/g) from 2 samples (beef roast, stewed tomatoes) and B. cereus was isolated (<100 CFU/g) from several pasta and bean products. Low-fat products had higher (P < 0.05) aerobic populations than products modified for low sodium, low fat, diabetic, or strained diets. No differences were obtained between the before- and after-storage populations. Over 92% of the samples had aerobic populations of 3 log CFU/g or less and 98% had populations of 4 log CFU/g or less. All except 2 samples had coliform populations of 1 log CFU/g or less and all samples had staphylococci populations of 3 log CFU/g or less. Under the conditions of this study, the microbial quality of vacuum-packaged foods properly produced by an enhanced cook-chill system was acceptable after food storage at 1 ± 1°C for up to 21 days.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0215, USA 2: Department of Animal Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0215, USA; Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0215, USA

Publication date: June 1, 1997

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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