Such microbiological risks refer to contamination by microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi) – potentially pathogenic for humans – and are today considered to be an emerging hazard as reported by the EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration, in the USA).
The health alerts that are provoked by microbiological contamination in fruit and vegetables represent a growing public health problem that also translate into significant economic losses for the sector due to the destruction of produce, logistics costs, closure of borders and perceived image within the market.
In terms of food safety and microbiological risks, the key is prevention, with the quality of water used and post-harvest washing processes being the most critical points between harvest and the end consumer. It is such a decisive stage as just a few kilos of fruit bearing pathogens can affect complete shipments through cross contamination during washing. Hence the importance of water quality and the disinfection system used.
“We have seen produce washers that could be much cleaner from a microbiological point of view, but, potentially, the most dangerous practice that we have witnessed is the reuse of washing waters with inadequate monitoring, without proper control over the concentrations of Ozone or Chlorine used” explained Benito Orihuel, CEO of Citrosol, “monitoring and control over the washing process is essential”.
Quality Water and a Quality Washing System
Since 2011, Citrosol have been implementing our Citrocide® Systems as opposed to the use of other chlorine-based disinfectants which, in addition to being difficult to monitor in practice, add environmental and food safety problems resultant from Chlorine DBPs (Disinfection by products: chlorates, chlorites and perchlorates).
The washing water used in the initial washing phases must be of at least the same quality as clean water (max. 100cfu E. coli / 100ml). The water in the final rinses must be of potable quality if the fruit and vegetables are ready-to-eat foods, such as tomatoes, apples, pears, carrots, chives etc. among others.
Advantages of Citrocide® Systems
Citrocide® systems are advanced systems for the hygienic washing of fruit and vegetable produce that guarantee the food safety of the final product, reduce water consumption during the washing process and extend the commercial life of perishables by controlling many decay inducing pathogens, thus mitigating post-harvest losses. Our systems turn the washer into a firewall, a Critical Control Point, preventing cross contamination and dramatically reducing surface contamination of the produce which, in turn, could affect the commercial life of the fruit.
The main characteristics that make Citrocide® Systems a radical improvement in the industrial washing of fruit and vegetable produce are the automatic monitoring and control of the washing and disinfection process and the hygienic recycling of water, which, whilst still minimizing the risk of cross contamination, results in huge savings in water. Along with this, we are controlling decay and increasing the commercial life of the produce without generating any harmful DBPs (chlorates, chlorites and perchlorates). Furthermore, Citrocide® is certified for use on organic produce.
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