Publications by authors named "Isabel Alegre"

9 Publications

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The impact of a cold chain break on the survival of Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes on minimally processed 'Conference' pears during their shelf life.

J Sci Food Agric 2017 Jul 29;97(9):3077-3080. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

IRTA, XaRTA-Postharvest, Edifici Fruitcentre, Parc Científic i Tecnològic Agroalimentari de Lleida, Parc de Gardeny, 25003, Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

Background: In recent years, improved detection methods and increased fresh-cut processing of produce have led to an increased number of outbreaks associated with fresh fruits and vegetables. During fruit and vegetable processing, natural protective barriers are removed and tissues are cut, causing nutrient rich exudates and providing attachment sites for microbes. Consequently, fresh-cut produce is more susceptible to microbial proliferation than whole produce.

Results: The aim of this study was to examine the impact of storage temperature on the growth and survival of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica on a fresh-cut 'Conference' pear over an 8 day storage period. Pears were cut, dipped in antioxidant solution, artificially inoculated with L. monocytogenes and S. enterica, packed under modified atmospheric conditions simulating commercial applications and stored in properly refrigerated conditions (constant storage at 4 °C for 8 days) or in temperature abuse conditions (3 days at 4 °C plus 5 days at 8 °C). After 8 days of storage, both conditions resulted in a significant decrease of S. enterica populations on pear wedges. In contrast, when samples were stored at 4 °C for 8 days, L. monocytogenes populations increased 1.6 logarithmic units, whereas under the temperature abuse conditions, L. monocytogenes populations increased 2.2 logarithmic units.

Conclusion: Listeria monocytogenes was able to grow on fresh-cut pears processed under the conditions described here, despite low pH, refrigeration and use of modified atmosphere. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.8127DOI Listing
July 2017

Effect of ripeness stage during processing on Listeria monocytogenes growth on fresh-cut 'Conference' pears.

Food Microbiol 2015 Aug 10;49:116-22. Epub 2015 Feb 10.

Food Technology Department, University of Lleida, XaRTA-Postharvest, Agrotecnio Center. Rovira Roure, 191, 25198-Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

There are several factors that affect the shelf life of fresh-cut fruit, including the cultivar, the ripeness stage of the fruit during processing and the fruit's storage atmosphere and temperature. The effect of fruit ripeness during processing on the survival and growth of Listeria monocytogenes on fresh-cut 'Conference' pear slices at different temperatures (5, 10 and 20 °C) was studied. The four ripeness stages studied in this work (assessed by a fruit's firmness) were mature-green (54-60 N), partially ripe (43-53 N), ripe (31-42 N) and overripe (<31 N). In our studies, pH, acidity and soluble solids content did not significantly change during conditioning at 20 °C. L. monocytogenes grew under all experimental conditions, showing an increase of approximately 2 log CFU g(-1) after 8 days of storage at 5 °C. There were significant differences in the L. monocytogenes population between different ripeness stages at the end of the experiments at 10 and 20 °C. Regardless of the ripeness stage of a fresh-cut pear, the growth potential of L. monocytogenes increased with increasing temperature. A pear's ripeness stage during processing is an important consideration to ensure the quality of a fresh-cut pear, but it is not as important for preventing L. monocytogenes growth at common storage temperatures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2015.01.019DOI Listing
August 2015

Control of foodborne pathogens on fresh-cut fruit by a novel strain of Pseudomonas graminis.

Food Microbiol 2013 Jun 31;34(2):390-9. Epub 2013 Jan 31.

Food Technology Department, Lleida University, XaRTA-Postharvest, Agrotecnio Center, Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

The consumption of fresh-cut fruit has substantially risen over the last few years, leading to an increase in the number of outbreaks associated with fruit. Moreover, consumers are currently demanding wholesome, fresh-like, safe foods without added chemicals. As a response, the aim of this study was to determine if the naturally occurring microorganisms on fruit are "competitive with" or "antagonistic to" potentially encountered pathogens. Of the 97 and 107 isolates tested by co-inoculation with Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria innocua on fresh-cut apple and peach, respectively, and stored at 20 °C, seven showed a strong antagonistic capacity (more than 1-log unit reduction). One of the isolates, CPA-7, achieved the best reduction values (from 2.8 to 5.9-log units) and was the only isolate able to inhibit E. coli O157:H7 at refrigeration temperatures on both fruits. Therefore, CPA-7 was selected for further assays. Dose-response assays showed that CPA-7 should be present in at least the same amount as the pathogen to adequately reduce the numbers of the pathogen. From the results obtained in in vitro assays, competition seemed to be CPA-7's mode of action against E. coli O157:H7. The CPA-7 strain was identified as Pseudomonas graminis. Thus, the results support the potential use of CPA-7 as a bioprotective agent against foodborne pathogens in minimally processed fruit.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2013.01.013DOI Listing
June 2013

Antagonistic effect of Pseudomonas graminis CPA-7 against foodborne pathogens in fresh-cut apples under simulated commercial conditions.

Food Microbiol 2013 Apr 9;33(2):139-48. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

University of Lleida, XaRTA-Postharvest, Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

Recently, we reported that the application of the strain CPA-7 of Pseudomonas graminis, previously isolated from apple, could reduce the population of foodborne pathogens on minimally processed (MP) apples and peaches under laboratory conditions. Therefore, the objective of the present work was to find an antioxidant treatment and a packaging atmosphere condition to improve CPA-7 efficacy in reducing a cocktail of four Salmonella and five Listeria monocytogenes strains on MP apples under simulated commercial processing. The effect of CPA-7 application on apple quality and its survival to simulated gastric stress were also evaluated. Ascorbic acid (2%, w/v) and N-acetyl-l-cysteine (1%, w/v) as antioxidant treatments reduced Salmonella, L. monocytogenes and CPA-7 recovery, meanwhile no reduction was observed with NatureSeal(®) AS1 (NS, 6%, w/v). The antagonistic strain was effective on NS-treated apple wedges stored at 10 °C with or without modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). Then, in a semi-commercial assay, efficacy of CPA-7 inoculated at 10(5) and 10(7) cfu mL(-1) against Salmonella and L. monocytogenes strains on MP apples with NS and MAP and stored at 5 and 10 °C was evaluated. Although high CPA-7 concentrations/populations avoided Salmonella growth at 10 °C and lowered L. monocytogenes population increases were observed at both temperatures, the effect was not instantaneous. No effect on apple quality was detected and CPA-7 did not survived to simulated gastric stress throughout storage. Therefore, CPA-7 could avoid pathogens growth on MP apples during storage when use as part of a hurdle technology in combination with disinfection techniques, low storage temperature and MAP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2012.09.007DOI Listing
April 2013

Determination of free chlorine concentrations needed to prevent Escherichia coli O157:H7 cross-contamination during fresh-cut produce wash.

J Food Prot 2011 Mar;74(3):352-8

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.

This study was conducted to investigate the effect of free chlorine concentrations in wash water on Escherichia coli O157:H7 reduction, survival, and transference during washing of fresh-cut lettuce. The effectiveness of rewashing for inactivation of E. coli O157:H7 on newly cross-contaminated produce previously washed with solutions containing an insufficient amount of chlorine also was assessed. Results indicate that solutions containing a minimum of 0.5 mg/liter free chlorine were effective for inactivating E. coli O157:H7 in suspension to below the detection level. However, the presence of 1 mg/liter free chlorine in the wash solution before washing was insufficient to prevent E. coli O157:H7 survival and transfer during washing because the introduction of cut lettuce to the wash system quickly depleted the free chlorine. Although no E. coli O157:H7 was detected in the wash solution containing 5 mg/liter free chlorine before washing a mix of inoculated and uninoculated lettuce, low numbers of E. coli O157:H7 cells were detected on uninoculated lettuce in four of the seven experimental trials. When the prewash free chlorine concentration was increased to 10 mg/liter or greater, no E. coli O157:H7 transfer was detected. Furthermore, although rewashing newly cross-contaminated lettuce in 50 mg/liter free chlorine for 30 s significantly reduced (P = 0.002) the E. coli O157:H7 populations, it failed to eliminate E. coli O157:H7 on lettuce. This finding suggests that rewashing is not an effective way to correct for process failure, and maintaining a sufficient free chlorine concentration in the wash solution is critical for preventing pathogen cross-contamination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-10-429DOI Listing
March 2011

Microbiological and physicochemical quality of fresh-cut apple enriched with the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

Food Microbiol 2011 Feb 18;28(1):59-66. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

University of Lleida, Centre UdL-IRTA, XaRTA-Postharvest, Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

The effectiveness as protective culture of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamonosus GG (L. rham. GG) against Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes on minimally-processed apples throughout storage as well as its effect on apple quality and natural microflora was evaluated. Survival to subsequent exposure to gastric stress was also reported. Apples were cut into wedges and dipped in a solution containing Salmonella and L. monocytogenes (10(5) cfu mL(-1)) and/or L. rham. GG (10(8) cfu mL(-1)). Apple wedges were packed and stored at 5 and 10 °C. Periodically, microbial population, bacterial survival to gastric stress and quality of apple wedges were evaluated. Although Salmonella was not affected by co-inoculation with L. rham. GG, L. monocytogenes population was 1-log units lower in the presence of L. rham. GG. L. rham. GG population maintained over recommended levels for probiotic action (10(6) cfu g(-1)) along storage, however, viable cells after gastric stress were only above this level during the first 14 days. Pathogen survival after gastric stress was <1% after 7 days at 5 °C. Moreover, apple wedges quality was not affected by L. rham. GG addition. Thus, L. rham. GG could be a suitable probiotic for minimally-processed apples capable to reduce L. monocytogenes growth; nevertheless shelf life should not be higher to 14 days to guarantee the probiotic effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2010.08.006DOI Listing
February 2011

Fate of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria innocua on minimally-processed peaches under different storage conditions.

Food Microbiol 2010 Oct 15;27(7):862-8. Epub 2010 May 15.

University of Lleida, Centre UdL-IRTA, XaRTA-Postharvest, Rovira Roure, 191, 25198 Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

Consumption of fresh-cut produce has sharply increased recently causing an increase of foodborne illnesses associated with these products. As generally, acidic fruits are considered 'safe' from a microbiological point of view, the aim of this work was to study the growth and survival of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria innocua on minimally-processed peaches. The three foodborne pathogens population increased more than 2 log(10)units on fresh-cut peach when stored at 20 and 25 degrees C after 48 h. At 10 degrees C only L. innocua grew more than 1 log(10)unit and it was the only pathogen able to grow at 5 degrees C. Differences in growth occurred between different peach varieties tested, with higher population increases in those varieties with higher pH ('Royal Glory' 4.73+/-0.25 and 'Diana' 4.12+/-0.18). The use of common strategies on extending shelf life of fresh-cut produce, as modified atmosphere packaging and the use of the antioxidant substance, ascorbic acid (2%w/v), did not affect pathogens' growth at any of the temperatures tested (5 and 25 degrees C). Minimally-processed peaches have shown to be a good substrate for foodborne pathogens' growth regardless use of modified atmosphere and ascorbic acid. Therefore, maintaining cold chain and avoiding contamination is highly necessary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2010.05.008DOI Listing
October 2010

Factors affecting growth of foodborne pathogens on minimally processed apples.

Food Microbiol 2010 Feb 27;27(1):70-6. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

University of Lleida, Centre UdL-IRTA, XaRTA-Postharvest, Rovira Roure, 191, 25198-Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria innocua increased by more than 2 log(10) units over a 24 h period on fresh-cut 'Golden Delicious' apple plugs stored at 25 and 20 degrees C. L. innocua reached the same final population level at 10 degrees C meanwhile E. coli and Salmonella only increased 1.3 log(10) units after 6 days. Only L. innocua was able to grow at 5 degrees C. No significant differences were observed between the growth of foodborne pathogens on fresh-cut 'Golden Delicious', 'Granny Smith' and 'Shampion' apples stored at 25 and 5 degrees C. The treatment of 'Golden Delicious' and 'Granny Smith' apple plugs with the antioxidants, ascorbic acid (2%) and NatureSeal (6%), did not affect pathogen growth. The effect of passive modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) on the growth of E. coli, Salmonella and L. innocua on 'Golden Delicious' apple slices was also tested. There were no significant differences in growth of pathogens in MAP conditions compared with air packaging of 'Golden Delicious' apple plugs, but the growth of mesophilic and psychrotrophic microorganisms was inhibited. These results highlight the importance of avoiding contamination of fresh-cut fruit with foodborne pathogens and the maintenance of the cold chain during storage until consumption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2009.08.005DOI Listing
February 2010

Efficacy of neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) for reducing microbial contamination on minimally-processed vegetables.

Int J Food Microbiol 2008 Mar 30;123(1-2):151-8. Epub 2008 Jan 30.

IRTA, Centre UdL-IRTA, XaRTA-Postharvest, 191 Rovira Roure, 25198-Lleida, Catalonia, Spain.

Consumption of minimally-processed, or fresh-cut, fruit and vegetables has rapidly increased in recent years, but there have also been several reported outbreaks associated with the consumption of these products. Sodium hypochlorite is currently the most widespread disinfectant used by fresh-cut industries. Neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) is a novel disinfection system that could represent an alternative to sodium hypochlorite. The aim of the study was to determine whether NEW could replace sodium hypochlorite in the fresh-cut produce industry. The effects of NEW, applied in different concentrations, at different treatment temperatures and for different times, in the reduction of the foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7 and against the spoilage bacterium Erwinia carotovora were tested in lettuce. Lettuce was artificially inoculated by dipping it in a suspension of the studied pathogens at 10(8), 10(7) or 10(5) cfu ml(-1), depending on the assay. The NEW treatment was always compared with washing with deionized water and with a standard hypochlorite treatment. The effect of inoculum size was also studied. Finally, the effect of NEW on the indigenous microbiota of different packaged fresh-cut products was also determined. The bactericidal activity of diluted NEW (containing approximately 50 ppm of free chlorine, pH 8.60) against E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, L. innocua and E. carotovora on lettuce was similar to that of chlorinated water (120 ppm of free chlorine) with reductions of 1-2 log units. There were generally no significant differences when treating lettuce with NEW for 1 and 3 min. Neither inoculation dose (10(7) or 10(5) cfu ml(-1)) influenced the bacterial reduction achieved. Treating fresh-cut lettuce, carrot, endive, corn salad and 'Four seasons' salad with NEW 1:5 (containing about 50 ppm of free chlorine) was equally effective as applying chlorinated water at 120 ppm. Microbial reduction depended on the vegetable tested: NEW and sodium hypochlorite treatments were more effective on carrot and endive than on iceberg lettuce, 'Four seasons' salad and corn salad. The reductions of indigenous microbiota were smaller than those obtained with the artificially inoculated bacteria tested (0.5-1.2 log reduction). NEW seems to be a promising disinfection method as it would allow to reduce the amount of free chlorine used for the disinfection of fresh-cut produce by the food industry, as the same microbial reduction as sodium hypochlorite is obtained. This would constitute a safer, 'in situ', and easier to handle way of ensuring food safety.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2007.12.008DOI Listing
March 2008