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Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Mar 1;91(2):109-17.

Microbial and sensory quality of commercial fresh processed red lettuce throughout the production chain and shelf life.

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  • 1Postharvest and Refrigeration Laboratory, Food Science and Technology Department, CEBAS-CSIC, Murcia, Spain.


Red pigmented 'Lollo Rosso' lettuce was processed under usual and controlled conditions in an industrial plant. At different steps of the production chain (reception, shredding, washing, draining, rinsing, centrifugation, and packaging), microbial counts were evaluated. Following industrial practices, processed lettuce was packaged at 5 degrees C in sealed polypropylene (PP) bags with an initial atmosphere containing 3 kPa O(2) and 5 kPa CO(2). The numbers of psychrotrophic bacteria, coliform and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) were influenced by all the studied steps of the production chain of the fresh processed 'Lollo Rosso' lettuce. Shredding, rinsing and centrifugation in particular increased bacterial counts. During a storage period of 7 days at 5 degrees C, sensory attributes (general appearance, texture, aroma, translucency, initial and persistent off-odors, leaves superficial browning, leaves edges browning, and decay) as well as microbial counts (psychrotrophic and mesophilic bacteria, coliforms and lactic acid bacteria) were monitored. Due to high microbial counts and off-odors evaluation, a shelf life shorter than 7 days should be considered for fresh processed 'Lollo Rosso' lettuce.

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