Informe del Comité Científico de la Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AESAN) sobre las condiciones de conservación de frutas cortadas por la mitad en establecimientos de comercio al por menor

  1. Antonio Valero Díaz
  2. Carlos Alonso Calleja
  3. Pablo Fernández Escámez
  4. Carlos Manuel Franco Abuín
  5. Sonia Marín Sillué
  6. Gloria Sánchez Moragas
Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN

ISSN: 1885-6586

Year of publication: 2022

Issue: 35

Pages: 115-138

Type: Article

More publications in: Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN


Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, provides that food business operators are primarily responsible for food safety. In addition, it stipulates that food that cannot be stored safely at ambient temperatures shall maintain a cold chain and temperature requirements should be established based on a scientific risk assessment. However, limited periods outside temperature control are permitted, to accommodate the practicalities of handling, provided that it does not result in a risk to health. Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs lays down certain safety and hygiene criteria for pre-cut fruit and vegetables. However, European legislation does not lay down specific storage temperature conditions for these pre-cut fruit and vegetables. In this regard, the obligation to refrigerate may present practical difficulties in the case of bulky fruit such as melon, watermelon, pineapple and papaya. The Scientific Committee has assessed whether it is possible to keep these bulky fruit halved in retail establishments at ambient temperature for a limited period of time, ensuring consumer safety. To this end, the factors associated with the presence and growth of biological hazards, as well as the published studies on pathogen prevalence, alerts and outbreaks of foodborne diseases, challenge studies and studies based on predictive microbiology models have been reviewed for each of the four fruits. Based on the available information, it is concluded that halved melon, watermelon, pineapple and papaya stored at ambient temperature may pose a health risk because the physico-chemical conditions are compatible with the growth of foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella spp., verotoxigenic Escherichia coli or Listeria monocytogenes. Melon, watermelon and papaya tolerate the growth of pathogens, while pineapple does not allow such growth, mainly due to lower pH levels. Despite the above, the storage of halved fruit at ambient temperature for short periods does not seem to have a significant influence on the development of foodborne pathogens, provided that it is accompanied by immediate subsequent cooling and that the product is consumed in a sufficiently short time. Therefore, temperatures <25 °C can be accepted for a time of <3 hours in a sufficiently ventilated and preserved of sunlight place, followed by continuous refrigeration storage at temperatures <5 °C (in the case of pineapple, such conditions could be reevaluated). It is also recommended that fruits with an excessive degree of maturity, or with wounds or clefts on their surface, should be excluded for cutting. Finally, it is recommended that establishments in the sector follow scrupulous hygienic practices, monitor exposure and conservation conditions and put in place the necessary measures to prevent possible cross-contamination.