Aspects of the Microbiological Quality and Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods in Sharjah Supermarkets in the United Arab Emirates

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Over the last few years, ready-to-eat (RTE) foods have become popular in grocery stores all over the world. This study was conducted to evaluate the microbiological safety and shelf life of some RTE salads sold in supermarkets in Sharjah Emirate, United Arab Emirates. Samples of four RTE salads, tabbouleh, hummus, Greek salad, and coleslaw, were obtained from supermarkets and examined for aerobic bacteria, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes. The results indicated significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) for the aerobic bacteria count among the RTE salad types. In tabbouleh, hummus, Greek salad, and coleslaw, E. coli counts of 0.9, 0.50, 0.27, and 0.25 log most probable number (MPN)/g and total aerobic bacterial plate counts of 3.57, 2.71, 2.76, and 2.52 log CFU/g, respectively, were found after preparation (day 0). At day 0, all RTE salads tested except tabbouleh contained an acceptable count of total bacteria, but the aerobic bacteria count for all the RTE salads increased rapidly during storage from day 2 to day 6, regardless of the storage temperature (5, 25, and 40°C). Twenty percent of all samples contained E. coli, although the numbers were as low as 1 log MPN/g. No S. aureus, L. monocytogenes, or Salmonella serotypes were detected in any of the RTE salads tested in this study.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Food Control Laboratory, Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates 2: Department of Food Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates 3: Department of Food Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates;, Email: 4: Department of the President's Affairs, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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