Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2004
Publication Date: 3/16/2005
Citation: Niemira, B.A., Sommers, C.H., Ukuku, D.O. 2005. Mechanisms of microbial spoilage of fruits and vegetables. In: Lamikanra, O., Imam, S.H., Ukuku, D.O., editors. Produce Degradation: Reaction Pathways and their Prevention. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis Group. p. 463-482.
Technical Abstract: Microbial spoilage can destroy 25-80% of fresh produce before it reaches the consumer. In recent decades, the technologies available to the fresh produce industries to reduce spoilage have become increasingly sophisticated, but new challenges are emerging. Technological and scientific advances are being applied to an increasingly globalized produce distribution network which is offering an increasingly diverse selection of fruits and vegetables, in addition to an expanding range of complex products such as ready-to-eat salads and mixed vegetables. The diversity of the fresh fruits and vegetables available, coupled with the logistical complexity of a globalized network of produce growers, distributors and retailers, make the issue of spoilage a significant economic factor. This chapter provides an overview of the key issues surrounding microbial spoilage of fresh produce, including the mechanisms by which produce may become infected, the types of microorganisms which cause spoilage of produce, and a presentation of case studies of microbial spoilage of archetypal fresh fruits and vegetables.