Special Issue "Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Quality and Safety".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 March 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Chiara Fanali
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Science and Technology for Humans and the Environment, Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, Via Alvaro del Portillo 21, 00128 Rome, Italy
Interests: development and application of analytical methods for the analysis of food molecules by chromatography-based approaches
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Antonini
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Science, Roma Tre University, viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Rome, and Interuniversity Consortium Biostructures and Biosystems National Institute (INBB), 00136 Rome, Italy
Interests: molecular mechanisms of metabolic control in eukaryotes and prokaryotes and their biotechnological applications on microbial detection
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite the recent growth in food production and preservation and the growing demand for healthy and high-quality products, food safety still represents a significant public health challenge, and 25% of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. A variety of bacteria, as well as viruses and parasites, can contaminate food, causing illness and death, and a high percentage of food is wasted due to microbial alteration. Contaminated food not only adversely affects people’s health but also has negative economic consequences. This stresses the importance of preventing and mitigating risks linked to food contamination by optimizing and adapting our monitoring programs and systems. Addressing this issue is a shared responsibility and requires collaboration between all the actors operating along the entire food chain, from production to consumption. Microbiological food control plays a central role in ensuring food quality and safety, and a more consistent and sustainable approach must be considered in order to allow all producers to control production processes and final products throughout their entire shelf-life. In this Special Issue, attention will be focused on different food categories: dairy, meat, and deli products and ready-to-eat fresh vegetables and on different methods utilized for food microbiological monitoring, from traditional culture-based methods up to new alternative analytical methods. Several research groups are investigating the microbiological quality and safety of these products in order to verify compliance with national and international regulations and study microbial communities during shelf-life with the final aim to prevent and control contamination ensuring higher quality standards and protection for consumers.

Prof. Dr. Chiara Fanali
Prof. Dr. Giovanni Antonini
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Food safety
  • Food quality
  • Food chain
  • Microbiological control
  • Analytical methods
  • Alternative microbiological methods
  • Shelf-life
  • Dairy products
  • Meat products
  • Ready-to-eat vegetables

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
First Nation-Wide Analysis of Food Safety and Acceptability Data in Lebanon
Foods 2020, 9(11), 1717; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111717 - 22 Nov 2020
Abstract
The challenges to food safety in Lebanon are numerous and have coalesced to pose a serious public health concern. This is evident in well-documented food poisoning outbreaks and adulteration cases. In response, the Lebanese government initiated an unprecedented food safety campaign (2015–2017) that [...] Read more.
The challenges to food safety in Lebanon are numerous and have coalesced to pose a serious public health concern. This is evident in well-documented food poisoning outbreaks and adulteration cases. In response, the Lebanese government initiated an unprecedented food safety campaign (2015–2017) that aimed to test food samples that were randomly collected from foodservices and industries across the country. The data were made available publicly, but they were never analyzed to prioritize and determine high risk foods and most prevalent contaminants nationally or across governorates. To answer these questions, we performed an in-depth statistical analysis of the data, which included 11,625 individual food samples. Our analysis showed that water (55% of tested water samples), spices (49.3%), red meat (34.4%), poultry (30.9%) and dairy (28.3%) were the main foods associated with the highest rejection rates. The most common biological contaminants detected in rejected foods were sulfate-reducing bacteria (34.7%), Escherichia coli (32.1%), coliforms (19.6%), Staphylococcus aureus (12.8%), and Salmonella (11.6%). We conclude that Lebanon needs rigorous and sustainable programs to monitor the quality and safety of foods. Given the lack of resources, we recommend putting emphasis on extensive outreach programs that aim at enhancing food safety knowledge from farm to fork. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
Open AccessArticle
Prevalence and Loads of Fecal Pollution Indicators and the Antibiotic Resistance Phenotypes of Escherichia coli in Raw Minced Beef in Lebanon
Foods 2020, 9(11), 1543; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9111543 - 26 Oct 2020
Abstract
Meat is an important source of high biological value proteins as well as many vitamins and minerals. In Lebanon, beef meats, including raw minced beef, are among the most consumed of the meat products. However, minced beef meat can also be an important [...] Read more.
Meat is an important source of high biological value proteins as well as many vitamins and minerals. In Lebanon, beef meats, including raw minced beef, are among the most consumed of the meat products. However, minced beef meat can also be an important source of foodborne illnesses. This is of a major concern, because food safety in Lebanon suffers from well-documented challenges. Consequently, the prevalence and loads of fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli were quantified to assess the microbiological acceptability of minced beef meat in Lebanon. Additionally, antibiotic resistance phenotypes of the E. coli were determined in response to concerns about the emergence of resistance in food matrices in Lebanon. A total of 50 meat samples and 120 E. coli isolates were analyzed. Results showed that 98% and 76% of meat samples harbored fecal coliforms and E. coli above the microbial acceptance level, respectively. All E. coli were resistant to at least one antibiotic, while 35% of the isolates were multidrug-resistant (MDR). The results suggest that Lebanon needs to (1) update food safety systems to track and reduce the levels of potential contamination in important foods and (2) implement programs to control the proliferation of antimicrobial resistance in food systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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Open AccessArticle
Ultrasound-Combined Sterilization Technology: An Effective Sterilization Technique Ensuring the Microbial Safety of Grape Juice and Significantly Improving Its Quality
Foods 2020, 9(10), 1512; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9101512 - 21 Oct 2020
Abstract
: The effects of ultrasound (US), thermosonication (TS), ultrasound combined with nisin (USN), TS combined with nisin (TSN), and conventional thermal sterilization (CTS) treatments on the inactivation of microorganisms in grape juice were evaluated. TS, TSN, and CTS treatments provided the desirable bactericidal [...] Read more.
: The effects of ultrasound (US), thermosonication (TS), ultrasound combined with nisin (USN), TS combined with nisin (TSN), and conventional thermal sterilization (CTS) treatments on the inactivation of microorganisms in grape juice were evaluated. TS, TSN, and CTS treatments provided the desirable bactericidal and enzyme inactivation, and nisin had a synergistic lethal effect on aerobic bacteria in grape juice while not having any obvious effect on the mold and yeast. Compared with CTS, the sensory characteristics of grape juice treated with TS and TSN are closer to that of fresh juice, its microbial safety is ensured, and the physicochemical properties are basically unchanged. More importantly, the total phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of juice treated with TS and TSN were significantly increased, and the total anthocyanin and flavonoid contents were largely retained. Taken together, these findings suggest that TS and TSN has great potential application value and that it can ensure microbial safety and improve the quality of grape juice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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Open AccessArticle
Microbiological Quality of Ready-to-Eat Leafy Green Salads during Shelf-Life and Home-Refrigeration
Foods 2020, 9(10), 1421; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9101421 - 08 Oct 2020
Abstract
The market of ready-to-eat leafy green salads is experiencing a noticeable growth in Europe. Since they are intended to be consumed without additional treatments, these ready-to-eat products are associated with a high microbiological risk. The aim of this work was to evaluate the [...] Read more.
The market of ready-to-eat leafy green salads is experiencing a noticeable growth in Europe. Since they are intended to be consumed without additional treatments, these ready-to-eat products are associated with a high microbiological risk. The aim of this work was to evaluate the microbiological quality and safety of ready-to-eat leafy green salads sold in widespread supermarket chains in Lazio, Italy, on the packaging date during shelf-life and during home-refrigeration. The study also aimed to determine the differences between low-, medium-, and high-cost products. Salmonella spp. and L. monocytogenes were chosen as safety indicators as specified by European regulations while total aerobic mesophilic bacteria and Escherichia coli were chosen as quality indicators as suggested by national guidelines. Analyses were performed following the ISO standards and in parallel for the evaluation of total aerobic mesophilic bacteria, with an alternative colorimetric system, the Micro Biological Survey method, in order to propose a simple, affordable and accurate alternative for testing the microbiological quality of products, especially suitable for small and medium enterprises and on-site analyses. The study revealed high, unsatisfactory, total bacterial loads in all analyzed samples on the packaging date and expiry date and a very high prevalence of Salmonella spp. (67%) regardless of the selected varieties and cost categories; L. monocytogenes was not recovered aligning with the results obtained in other studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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Open AccessCommunication
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Hydroponic Lettuce in Retail: A Comparative Survey
Foods 2020, 9(9), 1327; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9091327 - 21 Sep 2020
Abstract
Hydroponic produce is gaining popularity due to its suitability for urban agriculture. The general public also considers that hydroponic produce is free from microbiological contamination. In this study, we compared the frequency and abundance of tetracycline-resistant and sulphadiazine-resistant bacteria and the minimal inhibitory [...] Read more.
Hydroponic produce is gaining popularity due to its suitability for urban agriculture. The general public also considers that hydroponic produce is free from microbiological contamination. In this study, we compared the frequency and abundance of tetracycline-resistant and sulphadiazine-resistant bacteria and the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of these isolates in conventional, organic, and hydroponic lettuce sold in retail. We also determined the frequency of samples carrying tetB, tetX, sul1, sul2, and int1 genes by PCR and further quantified the copy number of tetX, sul1, and int1 genes in samples positive for these genes using qPCR. As expected, the number of resistant bacteria and the MICs of these isolates were lowest in hydroponic lettuce and highest in organic lettuce. All tested resistant genes, except int1, were detected in samples of all three production methods, but no significant difference was observed between the three groups in the frequency of samples carrying the resistance genes examined or in their copy number. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first study directly reporting the existence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes in hydroponic vegetables sold in retail. The result highlights that the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria contamination in hydroponic produce should be further investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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Open AccessCommunication
Rapid Microbiological Assessment in Raw Milk: Validation of a Rapid Alternative Method for the Assessment of Microbiological Quality in Raw Milk
Foods 2020, 9(9), 1186; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9091186 - 27 Aug 2020
Abstract
The consumption of dairy products and the dairy industry are one of the main global agri-food sectors for its size, economic importance, and level of technology. Microbiological quality of pasteurized milk or other milk products is dependent on microbiological quality of raw milk. [...] Read more.
The consumption of dairy products and the dairy industry are one of the main global agri-food sectors for its size, economic importance, and level of technology. Microbiological quality of pasteurized milk or other milk products is dependent on microbiological quality of raw milk. A variety of microbiological count methods is available for monitoring the hygienic quality of raw milk. Among them, the pour plate method is the official essay for counting the number of colony-forming units in milk samples according to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) No. 4833-1:2013. The aim of the present study is the validation of the Micro Biological Survey (MBS) method, against the reference plate-count method, for the assessment of the microbiological quality of raw milk. This comparative study, performed in collaboration with the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana M. Aleandri (IZSLT), demonstrates the accuracy of this alternative method for the determination of total viable bacterial count in cow’s raw milk. The results obtained with the MBS method highlight its potential as a valid tool for reliable microbiological analysis in dairy industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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Open AccessArticle
Microbiological Quality of Foodstuffs Sold on Expiry Date at Retail in Portugal: A Preliminary Study
Foods 2020, 9(7), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9070919 - 13 Jul 2020
Abstract
Currently, food waste represents an important issue due to its negative economic, social and environmental impact. To reduce the food waste levels, some retailers’ brands implement discounting based on the proximity to expiry. Since this practice may involve potential food poisoning, a total [...] Read more.
Currently, food waste represents an important issue due to its negative economic, social and environmental impact. To reduce the food waste levels, some retailers’ brands implement discounting based on the proximity to expiry. Since this practice may involve potential food poisoning, a total of 94 food products from animal origin, purchased in two supermarkets in North Portugal on the expiry date, were analyzed for selected foodborne and spoilage microorganisms. Moreover, the samples were classified as satisfactory and not satisfactory according to their microbiological quality. The results showed that none of the samples presented counts for Salmonella spp., S. aureus, B. cereus. L. monocytogenes was detected in one sample over the limit of 2 log cfu/g as defined by Regulation 2073/2005. The evaluation of food hygiene and spoilage indicators showed that the processed foods displayed lower counts than raw products (beef, pork, chicken and fish). Regarding Enterobacteriaceae, raw products presented on average over 2 log cfu/g than processed foods, with the exception of beef samples that accounted over 3 log cfu/g more than processed foods. In addition, E. coli was mainly detected in fresh meat of which chicken and pork displayed the highest counts. Regarding the qualitative classification, 51.06% of the samples were not satisfactory for the total mesophilic counts, while 62.76% and 58.51% displayed positive results for Enterobacteriaceae and molds and yeasts (M&Y) criteria, respectively. In all, 70.21% of the samples analyzed at the expiry date failed, at least, in one microbiological criterion. The results indicate that the foods available at the end of the shelf life in supermarkets do not represent a risk for food poisoning due to the absence of foodborne pathogens. Since the microbiological indicators of storage/handling of raw products were mainly unsatisfactory, this indicates that the sale of these perishable foods at the end of the shelf life may not be recommended. On the other hand, processed products subjected to food conservation procedures (i.e., thermal processing) could be sold at the end of their shelf life or donated beyond the best-before date, due to its physical, chemical and microbiological stability. However, evidences of foodborne outbreaks associated to this kind of foodstuffs indicated the need of a proper risk assessment. Moreover, it is important to remark that other factors such as small sample size, the absence of the evaluation of the handling, and storage conditions along the food chain or organoleptic alterations must be assessed in further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food)
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