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Microbiological Quality and Safety of Ready-To-Eat Cooked Foods from a Centralized School Kitchen in Argentina

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Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the microbiological and sensory quality as well as the safety of ready-to-eat (RTE) cooked foods prepared in and distributed from a centralized kitchen to schools in Argentina. A total of 101 cooked food samples delivered as hot RTE cooked foods (group A) and as RTE cooked foods at room temperature (group B) and 140 surface swab environment samples were collected from February to November 1999. Petrifilm plates were used for aerobic (PAC), coliform (PCC), and Escherichia coli (PEC) counts. Standard methods were used to determine Enterobacteriaceae (EntC) and thermotolerant coliform counts (TCC). Samples were also tested for the presence of Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Clostridium perfringens. Food temperatures just before samples were put into containers ranged from 80 to 98°C and from 28 to 32°C for group A and group B, respectively. For group A food samples, PAC ranged from 1.04 to 3.50 log CFU/g, and PCC, PEC, TCC, and EntC were not detected. For group B food samples, PAC ranged from 3.63 to 6.48 log CFU/g, PCC ranged from 1.90 to 5.36 log CFU/g, TCC ranged from 1.30 to 3.95 log CFU/g, and EntC ranged from 3.60 to 5.46 log CFU/g. Of the foodborne pathogens, only B. cereus was isolated (63.4% of samples) in both food groups (< 4 log CFU/g). The microbiological and sensory quality and the safety of group A foods were satisfactory. Large numbers of PAC and EntC detected in group B foods show that better control is needed to avoid potential foodborne diseases.

Keywords:

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Instituto de Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Ingeniería Química, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, C.C. 266-3000 Santa Fe, Argentina

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, 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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