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Efficacy of a Commercial Produce Wash on Bacterial Contamination of Lettuce in a Food Service Setting

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Many microorganisms (including a number of important foodborne pathogens) can be present on raw fruits and vegetables. Since these products are frequently eaten raw, any pathogens present represent a potential risk to the consumer. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of a commercial produce wash with that of water for reducing the total bacterial population on lettuce when used by food service employees in university dining halls. Because this study was carried out in actual food service facilities during their daily operation, we used indigenous produce microflora instead of actual pathogens. Over the course of the study, more than 40 heads of lettuce were divided into thirds, and each section was analyzed for total plate count either before washing, after washing in water, or after washing in Victory produce wash. When initial contamination levels were ≥100 CFU/g (n = 36 samples), reductions obtained with Victory produce wash (1.8 log CFU/g) were significantly larger (P = 0.0006) than those obtained with water (0.8 log CFU/g). Our results indicate that Victory produce wash is effective in reducing indigenous flora on lettuce during food service preparation. Our results also show that care must be taken in the analysis of microbial reduction data: only a slight reduction in total plate count (ca. 0.1 log CFU/g) and no significant difference in reductions (P = 0.84) were observed when all samples (irrespective of initial contamination level) were compared.


Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: Food Risk Analysis Initiative, Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey, 65 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901-8520, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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