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During post-harvest handling, fresh produce is often pre-cooled, rinsed or washed. When the fresh produce is warmer than the water temperature, the air spaces within the produce compress creating a vacuum effect. This vacuum effect may cause water to be drawn into the produce. The movement of water into the food matrix is referred to as infiltration. Infiltration can cause internal food contamination, if the water that is drawn into the produce is contaminated with pathogens. Even if there are subsequent washing steps targeted at cleaning the surface of the produce, these steps are not effective at eliminating pathogens inside the food matrix. Pathogen infiltration in produce commodities can pose a significant food safety risk, and may lead to possible foodborne outbreaks or recalls, especially in produce that does not go through a kill step, such as cooking, before consumption.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
May 30, 2019