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There is an increased consumer interest in minimally processed vegetables that has led to the development of products, such as pre-cut sliced mushrooms. Few data are available on the hygienic condition and the presence of foodborne pathogens in such products. Therefore, the current study aimed to evaluate the safety and hygienic characteristics of both ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook, pre-cut sliced mushrooms obtained from a local Italian market. For the evaluation of the hygienic condition, the aerobic mesophilic bacteria, aerobic psychrotrophic bacteria and Escherichia coli enumerations were performed. Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter spp. were considered in the assessment of the foodborne pathogens. High microbial loads were detected, including counts higher than 5 log CFU/g for E. coli and 6 log CFU/g for the other bacteria counts considered, but no pathogens were found. Ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products differed only for aerobic mesophilic counts (7.87 and 8.26 log CFU/g, respectively, P=0.003). Strategies to enhance the hygienic level of the mushrooms, particularly the ready-to-eat products, are needed.
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