Nav: Home

Fresh-cut produce washing practices can minimize food-borne illness risks

December 06, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC -- Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently examined the safety and quality of "wash techniques" used in the production of packaged produce. The study, published in the October 2007 issue of HortScience, simulated washing techniques to learn more about how industry practices affect quality and safety of pre-cut lettuce.

Yaguang Luo, PhD, Research Food Technologist at the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory, headed the study of produce wash techniques used in the commercial preparation of pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Luo explained that recent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses associated with the consumption of fresh-cut produce underscored the importance of ensuring food safety of these packaged convenience foods.

He noted that washing the produce is an important step commonly employed by the industry to maintain the quality and safety of fresh and fresh-cut produce. Prior to the study, however, little information existed about how wash operation and water re-use techniques affected the water quality, the efficacy of sanitizers on the reduction of microorganisms, or the quality and shelf life of packaged products. Luo explained: "The main objective of the research was to examine the dynamic interactions among wash operation, water quality, and sanitizer efficacy and product quality. We investigated the effect of produce washing techniques, including simulated water re-use, and the ratio between product weight and wash water volume on the water quality and effectiveness of sanitizers used to reduce microorganisms."

The researchers found that procedures in which water was re-used during the washing process led to rapid accumulation of organic matter in wash water and compromised the efficacy of sanitizers. According to Luo, "It is generally known that water re-use can cause water quality loss. The value of this research is that it reveals the complex effects of the foreign matter that is washed from produce on water quality and product quality, and it provides specific information on how wash operation variables (such as re-use of the same tank of water with increasing amount of cut product being washed) affect the water quality." The study also demonstrated the direct effect of wash water quality on product quality.

Luo concluded that results of the USDA study should define relationships among produce wash operations, water quality and product quality, giving produce packers new tools for enhancing food safety and quality.
-end-
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/42/6/1413/

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education and application. More information at ashs.org

American Society for Horticultural Science

Related Water Quality Articles:

Study quantifies effect of 'legacy phosphorus' in reduced water quality
For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveals that a 'legacy' of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.
New standards for better water quality in Europe
The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is due to be revised by 2019.
Investigating the impact of 'legacy sediments' on water quality
University of Delaware researcher Shreeram Inamdar has been awarded a $499,500 grant from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine if stream-bank legacy sediments are significant sources of nutrients to surface waters and how they may influence microbial processes and nutrient cycling in aquatic ecosystems.
Adaptive management of soil conservation is essential to improving water quality
The quality of our rivers and lakes could be placed under pressure from harmful levels of soluble phosphorus, despite well-intended measures to reduce soil erosion and better manage and conserve farmland for crop production, a new study shows.
Big data approach to water quality applied at shale drilling sites
A computer program is diving deep into water quality data from Pennsylvania, helping scientists detect potential environmental impacts of Marcellus Shale gas drilling.
More Water Quality News and Water Quality Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...