Ensuring safety of leafy green salad vegetables: how much decontamination is needed?
Ross, T, Ensuring safety of leafy green salad vegetables: how much decontamination is needed?, International Nonthermal Food Processing Workshop - FIESTA 2012, 16-17 October 2012, Melbourne, Australia (2012) [Conference Extract]
Ensuring safety of leafy green salad vegetables: how much decontamination is needed? Ready-to-eat ‘leafy’ salad vegetables are a rapidly growing market. Albeit rare in well-managed growing systems, leafy vegetables can become contaminated in the field with bacterial pathogens (e.g., from faeces of animals, irrigation water, decaying plant material). While bactericidal treatments are apparently needed to ensure food safety the quality of leafy vegetables is compromised by the bactericidal treatments such as heat or oxidizing chemical agents and creates a paradox between safety and quality assurance. To resolve this paradox, a large, collaborative and multi-faceted research project was undertaken in USA from 2007 – 2011 to investigate production and processing technologies that would maintain the quality of leafy vegetable products but ensure the safest leafy green products. The Food Safety Objective (FSO) concept is being developed internationally as a tool for establishing farm-to-fork food safety risk management strategies. The approach considers sources of contamination, potential for pathogen increase, and efficacy of various microbiocidal treatments throughout the farm-to-fork chain to determine the most effective combinations of treatments, packaging, hygiene etc. steps that collectively ensure the safety of the food at the point of consumption. This presentation will exemplify the use of the Food Safety Objective approach for leafy green vegetable products using information on the efficacy of microbiological testing, and novel processing technologies derived from the USA research program. From this approach, alternative food safety risk management options for this group of products will be considered and evaluated.