Microbiological Safety of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce: Description of the Situation and Economic Impact
Fresh produce has become one of our most desirable foods because today’s consumer perceives it as being healthy, tasty, convenient, and fresh. All of these characteristics are strong selling points to a busy and health-conscious consumer. The fruit and vegetable industry has experienced solid growth over the past 10 years as illustrated by increasing consumption and sales data and increasing space devoted to these products in supermarkets and on restaurant menus around the country. However, with a growing fresh produce market, the industry is facing new challenges that require attention, such as the protection of consumers against microbiological hazards. How do the industry structure and market pressures influence the safety of produce? What are the costs of food safety protection systems and who will be financially able to implement them successfully? These are important questions to address in this overview of the fresh produce industry.