Fresh fruit has been associated with a number of foodborne outbreaks in recent years. In particular, a large outbreak of listeriosis in the United States in 2011 was associated with consumption of cantaloupe melon, and an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in the United Kingdom and Europe (also in 2011) was linked to watermelon consumption. A study of precut fruit products from catering and retail premises in the United Kingdom was, therefore, carried out to assess their microbiological safety. Between January and March 2012, samples (1,188) of ready-to-eat precut fruit were collected from retail and catering premises in the United Kingdom, and 99% were of satisfactory microbiological quality. However, four samples (0.3%) were of an unsatisfactory quality (one with 800 CFU/g Listeria monocytogenes and three with >100 CFU/g Escherichia coli), and five samples (0.4%) were of a borderline quality owing to the presence of E. coli (two samples with a level of 20 CFU/g), Staphylococcus aureus (two samples with levels of >50 CFU/g), or L. monocytogenes (one sample with a level of 80 CFU/g). L. monocytogenes or other Listeria species were detected in a further 54 samples (4.5%) at levels below the threshold considered to be borderline or unsatisfactory. A significantly larger proportion of samples from one national supermarket chain was contaminated with L. monocytogenes than other supermarkets, and two types were, in this study, unique to this supermarket. This study shows that overall, the microbiological quality of ready-to-eat precut fruit was good. However, the presence of Listeria species in 5% of samples highlights the need for good hygiene during preparation and satisfactory temperature and time control during storage of these food products.

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