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Survey of Temperature and Consumption Patterns of Fresh-Cut Leafy Green Salads: Risk Factors for Listeriosis

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Increasing demand for fresh-cut or ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables, developed to meet the consumer need for quick and convenient products, has prompted extensive research into their microbiological quality, safety, processing, and packaging. The microbial ecology of Listeria monocytogenes is recognized as a major safety concern for fresh-cut produce. A survey was performed to collect information on consumption patterns of fresh-cut leafy green salads and the temperature of domestic refrigerators. Salad consumption was low-moderate: 24.3% of respondents never purchased fresh-cut leafy green salads; of those who reported buying these products, 7.41% did so more than twice a week, 17.28% once or twice a week, 29.63% once or twice a month, and 45.68% occasionally. Saving time and convenience were the advantages most widely reported by consumers. A total of 9.9% of respondents did not always respect the “use-by” date of fresh-cut salads, a negative practice that could contribute to the risk of listeriosis. Temperatures reported in domestic refrigerators were compatible with the growth of L. monocytogenes on ready-to-eat salads. Variations in average temperature followed a normal distribution, N(6.62, 2.56), while the variability of temperature variance was described by a gamma distribution, G(2.00, 1.00). As expected, when a time of day–temperature profile was plotted over a 24-h period, changes corresponding to the transition between day and night were observed. Knowledge of consumption patterns and consumer hygiene practices is essential, first in assessing the risk of listeriosis (risk assessment) and second in taking measures to manage that risk (risk management).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departmento de Bromatología y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus Rabanales, Ed. Darwin—Anexo, C.P. 14014, Córdoba, Spain;, Tel: +(34) 957 212057, Fax: -(34) 957 212000, Email: 2: Departmento de Bromatología y Tecnología de los Alimentos, Universidad de Córdoba, Campus Rabanales, Ed. Darwin—Anexo, C.P. 14014, Córdoba, Spain

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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