Submitted to: CRC Press
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 2005
Publication Date: September 15, 2005
Citation: Breidt, F. 2006. Safety of minimally processed, acidified and fermented vegetable products. In: Sapers, G.M., Gorny, J.R., Yousef, A.E., editors. Microbiology of Fruits and Vegetables. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 313-335. Interpretive Summary: This book chapter describes the current knowledge concerning the production of safe vegetable products. A review of the scientific literature in this field is given, with special attention to literature concerning how organic acids, including organic acid preservatives which are present in acidified vegetable products, kill disease-causing bacteria that may be present on vegetables. The review addresses recent concerns by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the safety of acid and acidified foods in general, as is evident by the recent changes promulgated in the Federal Register concerning the safety of juice products (which are considered acid foods). Additional topics covered in the chapter include the safe and effective use of biocontrol bacteria to prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria in vegetable products and the genetics of acid resistance in bacteria found in vegetable products.
Technical Abstract: Preservation of vegetables by fermentation is one of the earliest and most widespread technologies developed by man. Fermented and acidified vegetable products are produced and consumed in every culture and society around the world, usually based on traditional processing methods. This is because the products produced are safe even in the absence of refrigerated storage, due to the inhibitory metabolites produced primarily by lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria may also be used to control spoilage of fresh vegetable products. The factors influencing microbial competition during fermentation or spoilage of fresh vegetable products have proved to be difficult to understand, but biocontrol strategies have the potential to ensure the safety and control the microbial ecology of food spoilage for many types of non-fermented foods. Significant challenges remain, however, in understanding the mode of action of organic acids in killing bacterial pathogens, and how those pathogens respond and adapt to acid challenge.