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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1141: III International Conference on Fresh-Cut Produce: Maintaining Quality and Safety

Temperatures experienced by fresh-cut leafy greens during retail storage and display

Authors:   W. Brown, E. Ryser, L. Gorman, S. Steinmaus, K. Vorst
Keywords:   Romaine, lettuce, supermarket, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7, food safety, backroom
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1141.10
Abstract:
There has been limited published work in the United States on temperature profiling of fresh-cut, bagged leafy greens during their transport, retail storage, and retail display. This study utilized temperature monitors placed in backrooms and display cases at nine supermarkets located in southern California: the Central Coast (Santa Barbara to Los Osos), Greater Los Angeles (Burbank area), and Greater Palm Desert. Sensors were installed midway along each 8-foot display case section containing fresh-cut leafy greens. Monitors were placed at the front and back of shelves and in the lower bin. In storage rooms, sensors were placed 4 feet from the floor in each corner. High and low temperature abuse occurred in retail display cases, with slightly more than 40% of the sensors indicating temperatures >7.22C, and 17% of the sensors indicating temperatures <-0.17C, for at least 5% of the time. Temperatures in storage rooms were rarely too low, but were often too high: slightly more than 58% of the sensors indicated temperatures >7.22C more than 5% of the time, and five sensors measured continuous temperatures >7.22C for nearly a year. Overall, most temperature abuse of pre-cut leafy greens at the retail level occurred during backroom storage. This study should be expanded to include major grocery chains in cities across the United States in order to verify these results.

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