IDENTIFICATION OF RISK FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH FOOD WASTE REDUCTION
Food waste occurs from initial production all the way to consumption. Whilst different tactics are implemented to reduce food waste among the industry and consumers, changes in production and distribution methods change the sources and degree of risk. Understanding and identifying risk factors that might be introduced through changes, such as product handling and pattern of use, are needed to ensure food safety. The use of outgraded produce (i.e., visually unacceptable for the market) and the proposal of ignoring shelf life date labels have gained attention as solutions to food waste in both the U.S. and Europe. This study suggests that outgraded produce with physical damage (i.e., open lesions) retains more pathogens following disinfection treatment compared to ones with physiological defects (i.e., wounds with intact surface). However, rapid growth of spoilage microbiota limits the shelf life of outgraded produce with physical damage, and thus makes the survival and growth of retained pathogens, during post-harvest storage, irrelevant to food safety. In contrast to whole fruits and vegetables, the growth of L. monocytogenes in physically damaged produce became problematic before consumers could detect the sensory deterioration on RTE foods under both strict and abuse refrigeration temperatures. Therefore, the quality deteriorations, such as off odor, sliminess and fungal growth, should not be used as fail-safe indicators considering shelf-life limitation for L. monocytogenes growth. This study addresses food safety concerns associated with waste reduction and provides a quantitative framework for the development of risk management decisions.
Food security; Outgraded produce; Produce safety; Secondary quality; Shelf life; Food science; Food Waste; Microbiology
Worobo, Randy W.
Bihn, Elizabeth A.
Food Science and Technology
M.S., Food Science and Technology
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis