This chapter mainly describes the microbiology and microbial spoilage of the white button mushroom Agaricus bisporus. Cultural and postharvest practices to enhance the quality of fresh white button mushrooms have also been reviewed. Since the casing layer largely influences the microbiology of fresh mushrooms, it is possible that the microbiology of mushrooms grown using casing from the similar sources is largely similar. Cultural and postharvest practices that enhance agaricus quality may also be applicable to other commercial varieties such as crimini, portabella, shiitake, oyster, maaitake, and other exotic mushrooms varieties commonly seen in retail outlets.
While we have noted significant increases in yeast populations during postharvest storage of fresh mushrooms, the role played by yeast in the microbial spoilage of fresh mushrooms is largely unknown. Hence, as a starting point, the predominant yeast varieties in fresh mushrooms need to be characterized.
While it is our understanding that mushroom growers strive to maintain refrigeration temperatures during storage prior to shipping, temperature fluctuations and abuse can be commonly encountered during transportation and retailing. This seriously compromises the quality of fresh mushrooms. Hence it becomes essential for food transportation companies and retailers to understand the implications of postharvest storage conditions on the quality and shelf life of fresh mushrooms.
HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) is increasingly being adopted by mushroom growers as a system to enhance the safety of fresh mushrooms. Studies at Penn State have been conducted to validate critical control points to ensure the safety of irrigation water [29,30] and the mushroom compost substrate . Since heat pasteurization is not a practical method to disinfect the casing layer, research is needed to understand the microbial ecology of this material and thereby identify and validate other practical casing or mushroom disinfection procedures.
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