Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Science

First Advisor

Dr. Aysha Abushelaibi

Second Advisor

Dr. Mohamed Badawi

Third Advisor

Dr. Abdulmajeed Saif

Abstract

Ready to eat foods covers a wide range of pre-processed food products that are readily eaten by consumers without further processing. Recently, there has been considerable increase in the demand of processed and convenience foods that are mildly pre-cooked, rapidly chilled, portioned and distributed for refrigeration prior to reheating and consumption by consumers. However, some of these foods such as, luncheon meals, ready to eat vegetables, fruit salad, spinach salad, and other deli-style meat and poultry products can be a harbor for pathogenic bacteria that are harmful to health when consumed by people especially with weak immune system.

Unfortunately, these foods quite often may suffer from temperature abuse of 10°C or above for extended period of time giving chance to pathogenic bacteria to grow and survive to sufficient numbers that are harmful to human health. In spite of all the safety concern, ready to eat foods are very popular among a wide range of consumers. Over the last few years, these foods became popular in Sharjah grocery stores. The study evaluated the microbiological safety of some ready to eat foods sold in supermarket stores in Sharjah and the appropriate shelf-life for those products.

The results showed that the way of preparation of the food could be an indication of the quantity and quality of the presence of microorganisms as in tabbouleh, hommos, greek salad, and coleslaw (0.68, 0.50, 0.44 and 0.20 Log10 CFU/g) of E. coli and (3.57, 2.71, 2.76 and 2.52 Log10 CFU/g) of total microorganisms. All ready to eat appetizers tested contained acceptable count of total bacteria except tabbouleh with the highest count. Twenty percent of all samples contained E. coli although the number can be as low as 3 Log10 CFU/g. From the results of all products studied, it was recommended the shelf life of ready to eat appetizers should not exceed one day, according to UAE standards and it is recommended that Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) should be implemented in all locations studied.

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