Assessment of the microbiological quality of fresh produce on sale in Sicily, Italy: preliminary results.
Sommaire de l'article
Fresh produce occupies an increasingly important place in the human food supply because of its health-promoting nutritional properties. Most fresh produce is eaten raw or after minimal processing and, consequently, pathogen contamination can represent a serious health risk. There has been an increase in foodborne outbreaks and cases associated with fresh produce, but literature data about the prevalence of pathogen contamination are inconsistent. This study was undertaken to assess the hygienic quality and the prevalence of the most common bacterial pathogens in fresh produce sold in retail markets in Sicily. A total of 125 samples of different types of vegetables were examined by standardized microbiological methods.
The aerobic mesophilic count ranged between 2 log and 7 log cfu g(-1) and the Enterobacteriaceae counts between < 1 log and 6 log cfu g(-1), with statistically significant differences between unprocessed and minimally processed products (p < 0.05). Escherichia coli was detected only in leaf vegetables at a concentration of 2 log – 3 log cfu g(-1). Enterococci were found at a concentration of 2 log – 4 log cfu g(-1). Coagulase positive Staphylococci and sulphite-reducing Clostridia were not detected in any sample. Three samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica and Salmonella veneziana.
Our study provides updated data on the microbiological quality of retail vegetables and confirms the need to implement strategies to increase microbial safety of fresh produce.