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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #370556

Research Project: Evaluation and Maintenance of Flavor, Nutritional and Other Quality Attributes of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Title: Temperature profiling of open- and closed-doored produce cases in retail grocery stores

item VORST, K - Iowa State University
item BROWN, W - California State University
item STEINMAUS, S - Iowa State University
item BRECHT, J - University Of Florida
item XIE, Y - University Of Florida
item Luo, Yaguang - Sunny
item BORNHORST, E - Orise Fellow
item Zhou, Bin
item SHAW, A - Iowa State University
item MONGE-BRENES, A - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Food Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2020
Publication Date: 2/8/2020
Citation: Vorst, K., Brown, W., Steinmaus, S., Brecht, J.K., Xie, Y., Luo, Y., Bornhorst, E.R., Zhou, B., Shaw, A., Monge-Brenes, A. 2020. Temperature profiling of open- and closed-doored produce cases in retail grocery stores. Food Control.

Interpretive Summary: Temperature control in supply chain is critical for maintaining food quality and safety. Previous studies demonstrate beneficial effects of temperature maintenance through installation of doors to the open display cases. However, the lack of scientific data obtained under commercial operating conditions impeded the adoption of this new technology. In this study, scientists from USDA-ARS, Iowa State University, California State University and Florida University worked with the retail industry in performing large field studies in the retail stores across different retails chains, locations, and seasons. Our results validated the effect of retrofitting open refrigerated display cases with doors for improving temperature control. Findings benefit consumers, retail industry, produce industry, and the display case manufacturers.

Technical Abstract: Temperature control of produce in the retail environment is essential to reduce food safety risks, maintain quality, and reduce food waste. Previous studies have demonstrated that retrofitting or replacing open display cases doors better controls temperature and humidity. However, there are no studies to date that comprehensively evaluated temperature profile in cases with and without doors in the actual retail store environment. Twenty-five open and closed refrigerated display cases in ten retail stores in five states were monitored for temperature and humidity over 9 months. Sensors recorded data every 2 minutes in eight positions (top, middle, bottom and under the bottom shelves, in the front and back locations of each shelf). Results of this study found significant differences between open and closed cases, retailers, and sensor position in display cases for the longest duration (35.7% of total time observed). Temperatures and abuse conditions above 5 °C were not significantly different between front and back positions in the cases. Further, the range of temperature and RH variability was reduced following door installation. With changes in display case technology over the past five years, this study provides updated data on operational temperatures in display cases before and after retrofitting with doors. It also provides evidence of the importance of temperature monitoring within display cases to ensure abuse conditions do not persist.