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Keeping bagged salads safe.

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Researchers are focusing on ways to keep leafy greens safe at processing facilities and at home. Their studies range from washing products before bagging to effective storage conditions afterward. Washing and sanitizing are important steps used to reduce contamination on product surfaces to increase the safety and quality of precut produce before it is placed in bags.

One researcher simulated washing techniques to learn more about how practices in the industry affect safety and quality of precut lettuce. For the study, Romaine lettuce leaves were sliced and then rinsed in either fresh wash water or in reused wash water. The washed leaves were then dried, placed into bags made from special oxygen-permeable films, and stored at 41[degrees] F.

Microbial growth and product quality were monitored at 0, 4, 8, 11, and 14 days of storage. At the end of the storage time, unwashed control leaves and leaves washed with water that had been reused many times had higher bacterial populations than leaves washed with clean water. Washing a small amount of lettuce thoroughly in a large amount of clean water resulted in the least off-odor.

When water was reused during the washing process, organic matter rapidly accumulated within the wash water and compromised the efficiency of any sanitizers that had been applied. This new information gives produce packers new tools in designing wash systems and managing wash operations for enhancing food safety and quality.

(Source: Agricultural Research, July 2008.)
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2006
Words:242
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