Produce wash kills bacteria on food

June 26, 2008 at 2:34 PM

PULLMAN, Wash., June 26 (UPI) -- A fruit and vegetable wash, when used in food-manufacturing, can decrease food pathogens in produce-processing wash water, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at the University of Idaho and Washington State University said the product sold commercially as FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash, not only proved much more effective than the commonly used chlorine dioxide, but is made from ingredients like citric acid and distilled grapefruit oil that are generally regarded as safe.

Chlorine dioxide, used in food plants, can put workers at risk, when compromised by soils and plant debris in the wash water. In the study, chlorine dioxide killed 90 percent of the target organisms in the food plant and follow-up laboratory studies. By contrast, FIT killed 99.999 percent, said food scientist Dong-Hyun Kang of Washington State University.

"If you had a million bacteria, you would have one left," Kang said.

The research -- unusual because part of it was conducted under real-world conditions in an Idaho fresh pack potato operation -- is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Food Science in August.

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