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Establishment of operating standards for produce wash systems through the identification of specific metrics and test methods


The main objective of this proposal is helping producers to maintain the quality of the process water in commercial washing systems through control of water quality variables and the selection of adequate test methods for monitoring the process. Water disinfection is one of the most critical processing steps in fruit and vegetable production aimed at preventing cross-contamination. In the packinghouses and processing facilities, it is difficult to treat and maintain properly the quality of the process water because of the variability in the demand of disinfectant, the lack of operational limits and test methods to monitor the process and the different commercial operations. This project will investigate the most common disinfection agents used in packinghouses and processing facilities. Four scenarios have been selected based on different water characteristics including fresh-cut onions (excessive cell exudates, very high organic matter and turbidity), chopped lettuce (high organic matter and low turbidity), baby leaves (low organic matter and low turbidity) and peppers and tomatoes (low organic matter and high turbidity). Operational limits will be established commercial facilities and lab-scale experiments using inoculated foodborne pathogens. Results obtained should inform producers about the realistic expectations for controlling selected water quality variables in produce washing systems.

Allende, Ana; Gill, Maria
CEBAS-CSIC Campus de Espinardo, Spain
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