The microbiological examination of ready-to-eat organic vegetables from retail establishments in the United Kingdom

S. K. Sagoo*, Christine Little, R. T. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aims: A microbiological study of uncooked ready-to-eat organic vegetables was undertaken to determine the microbiological quality of these vegetables on retail sale in the UK. Methods and Results: Organic vegetables were collected and examined according to a standardized protocol. The majority (3185 of 3200; 99.5%) of samples were found to be of satisfactory/acceptable quality whilst only 15 (0.5%) were of unsatisfactory quality. Unsatisfactory results were due to Escherichia coli and Listeria spp. (not L. monocytogenes) levels in excess of 102 cfu g-1. Conclusions: The absence of pathogens (L. monocytogenes, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli O157) and the low incidence (1.5%) of E. coli and Listeria spp. associated with these organic vegetables indicates that overall agricultural, hygiene, harvesting and production practices were good. Significance and Impact of the Study: There has been a significant expansion of the UK organic market since 1998/99. Of the various commodity sectors making up the organic market, fruit and vegetables is the largest sector and this has been reflected in an increased interest in their microbiological safety. This is the first study to provide information on the microbiological quality of organic vegetables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-439
Number of pages6
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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