Post-harvest wash water management for shelf life and food safety

Post-harvest wash water management for shelf life and food safety

Sanitizer usage

Use a sanitizer in at least one step of the wash process. It is important to regularly measure and document actual free sanitizer levels in wash water and hydrocooler water as well as the amount of time the product is in contact with the sanitizer. Inexpensive test strips for many commonly used sanitizers are available at restaurant supply stores.

Be sure to use a sanitizer level appropriate for the crop you are washing as well. Leafy greens usually require much less sanitizer than root crops. In general, as the concentration of sanitizer goes down in wash water, the time the water stays in contact with the bacteria must increase in order for adequate kill.

Use a sanitizer that is compatible with the use and makeup of your equipment. Chlorine is corrosive on metals, making widespread application with some equipment impossible. The sanitizer you use should be of food grade if it will be coming into direct contact with the produce. Check the label to make sure it is approved for use as a tank sanitizer.

Organic load

Research by Michigan State University and others clearly shows that increases in organic matter, such as dirt, can not only reduce overall free sanitizer levels more quickly, but actually interfere with the operation of some sanitizer testing equipment. Have a regular time to change the dunk water or recirculating hydrocooler water and document the process.

Water temperature

Water has been shown to travel by osmosis into fruits and vegetables that are too rapidly cooled. Aim for water temperatures no more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the produce being cooled. If necessary, monitor the temperature of produce and wash water on certain high risk crops such as tomatoes and cantaloupe.

An excellent resource on using chlorine in post-harvest wash water can be found at “Guidelines for the Use of Chlorine Bleach as a Sanitizer in Food Processing Operations” by Oklahoma State University. It outlines basic guidance and the usage based on crop.


BioSafe Announces Important OxiDate 2.0 Label Updates

BioSafe is always listening to our growers and to the market for continuous product improvement such as better application rates for increased grower economics, expanded uses or for new applications for technological advances in the market, as well as a growing list of pathogens and commodities.  Below are the latest label updates for OxiDate 2.0 and what these advances mean to you.

  1. Electrostatic Sprayer


Electrostatic sprayers are becoming increasingly popular due to their unique coverage capabilities while utilizing less chemicals compared to traditional methods. OxiDate 2.0 is now labeled for use with this equipment.

  1. Treatment of Agricultural Water used for Pesticide Spray Solutions


The quality of water used in pesticide spray solutions cannot be overlooked or overstated; it can greatly affect pesticide performance (especially at lower rates) as well as mix consistency. OxiDate 2.0 is a great way to treat collected surface water used in pesticide spray tanks, so you know the water you’re spraying is solving a problem – not creating one.

  1. Pre-Harvest Clean-up Sprays for Spoilage Causing Organisms on Crops


It won’t be overlooked when your products last longer than your competitors’ by utilizing OxiDate 2.0 as a clean-up step to control spoilage causing organisms. The additional shelf life your product has over theirs might make the difference next time.

OxiDate 2.0 pre-harvest spray is critical for use in field-packed vegetables and fruit to ensure bacteria, molds, yeast and fungi are inhibited prior to packing.

  1. Increase in Volume Up to 400/Gallons of Spray Solution per Acre


OxiDate 2.0 can now adapt between high-volume sprays for large canopy crops such as tree fruit and permanent crops.  With up to 400 gallons of spray solution per acre, OxiDate 2.0 becomes a highly versatile tool for scenarios where immediate pathogen control is critical.

  1. Stronger “Rescue” Rate

1:40 Rescue Rate/3.2 fl.oz per Gallon of water

Used for: berries (excluding strawberries), bulb vegetables, cereal grains/commodities, citrus crops, cranberries, cucurbit crops, fruiting vegetables, hops, peanuts, pome fruits, roots and tuber vegetables, stone fruits, tree nuts and tropical/subtropical fruits.  This rescue treatment rate can also be utilized for dormant clean-up sprays to eradicate overwintering bacterial and fungal pathogens.

**These label updates are valid in all states except California

Experts focus on fighting disease in beans

Used By Permission: Retrieved from Gering Citizen on 8/23/2016, written by: Frank Marquez

Originally published November 13, 2015

Experts focus on fighting disease in beans

Leaving little to chance when it comes to dealing with Mother Nature, farmers fight a constant battle with the elements and disease to grow a season’s worth of crop. A combination of hail storms and bacteria can wipe out an entire field. Therefore, minimizing risk and being selective about anti-bacterial solutions or fungicides becomes even more important.

Recently, crop analysts and marketers have been following the use of hydrogen peroxide on the local bean crop, specifically to control the spread of bacteria and fungus, and experts try to determine if this method compared to others is the most practical.

“Back in the 1990s, they were trying this, and everyone thought it was snake oil. Then, it kind of went away,” said Dan Smith, chief agronomist at Kelley Bean in Scottsbluff, “Right now, money is being spent on (copper) chemicals. So, hydrogen peroxide is trying to gain a foothold in the market. Normal applications aren’t being sold yet. If the big chemical dealers start selling it, hydrogen peroxide sales will take off.”

So far, only a handful of farmers have taken note of the method and bought the solution, but the Gering Citizen could reach only one farmer in west Nebraska. “This method covers a wide range,” said the Panhandle farmer who requested anonymity, adding the reasons he uses it are because, it has been “approved by the organic farming industry. It’s half price, and safer.”

UNL Plant Pathologist Dr. Bob Harveson at the university’s extension office north of Scottsbluff said, “Bacteria are much more difficult to control once they become established. The most effective method for bacterial control is genetic resistance in the host (bean crop).”

Harveson has been working with a dry bean breeder to develop better resistance in crops. “In the meantime,” he said, “We need something as a stop-gap to help out.”

One of the biggest factors in treating crops has been the cost. Careful to avoid overruns with respect to damage, farmers must determine if chemical applications could potentially cause harm to the plants, on top of the equipment and tools used to spread the chemical.

Others wonder if the harvested crop could end up being harmful to the consumer, a common concern.

Traditionally, farmers have used a copper based solution.

In the past five years, BioSafe Systems LLC has produced and sold a Paracetic Acid-based microbiocide called SaniDate 12.0. The company which has recently modified its formula to make it stronger, includes 18-percent hydrogen peroxide.

“It seems to be working really well on bacterial and fungus diseases,” Smith said.

With regard to cost, “We have a grower, in previous years, he spent more than $170,000 dollars on chemicals,” Smith said. “This year (2015), he went strictly to the hydrogen peroxide treatment, and it was about $40,000 dollars. If you’re a big grower of 2,200 acres of beans, it’d be easy to save $100,000 dollars on chemicals.”

Harveson, in agreement with the reduced cost of using hydrogen peroxide, said it’s about a quarter of the price.

Smith added, “It also works effectively on white mold. And, that’s big for the bean industry because it’s human consumption. Any time we can eliminate chemicals residue into the plant, you know that’s something we look for. It goes on, it kills what’s out there, and then it’s gone. It doesn’t leave any type of chemical in the field which makes it (environmentally sound.) That’s the main reason we’ve been pushing it.”

At the same time, Harveson cautions farmers to proceed carefully. “There are two that have shown the most potential – there is one called eco-agro 300, which is some type of plant derived fatty acid. Another is SaniDate,” he said. “It is basically hydrogen peroxide – what you would find on the store shelf in a brown bottle. What I have found and what others have relayed to me is that the formulation of SaniDate is extremely caustic, and burns. You take the lid off the container and it just overwhelms you. My assistant said she spilled some on the lab floor and it started eating through the concrete. You don’t mix much with water – basically, its 1-part solution to 1,000 parts water, or 1 milliliter of the product into 1 liter of water. That’s less than half a teaspoon.”

Smith said, “Any time we can do it cheaper in these littler markets, might get us more acres. People might lower their production costs.

That’s a good thing in these markets where the margin is pretty slim.

Also, as selling point for the market, it’s just good to show that the bean industry is trying to do stuff more environmentally safe, and trying to get a good safe product for the people, for the consumers.”

Smith added, “The copper approach isn’t so bad, but it’s the fungicides that leave some residues that our end users don’t want. We have to do residue testing on our beans, and some of the products they look for are products in the white mold treatments. So, the peroxide is something we want to see used on the beans.”

Harveson said hydrogen peroxide can be used on other crops. “Yeah, I think it is,” he said. “I think it’s good for the popcorn growers. It probably would work on corn as well. You wouldn’t see the type of yield increase that would make it pay. Beans just have a lot more disease issues. That’s why you see them used more in beans.”

So far, the method has yet to take a foothold in the market, though it has proven to be cheaper for the producer, and has less chance of leaving a chemical residue.

Harveson explained that antibiotics, an alternative, are much more expensive to produce. The only antibiotics used in bacterial control start with seed treatment. That will help establish the seedling, and get it going, but it will not protect (the crop) for the entire season. “You just can’t do that on a commercial scale, go out and spray a 100-acre field,” he said.

Harveson said copper-based treatments have been around for years and consist of copper sulfate, or copper hydroxide. “You mix it with water and you spray it on the plants. It’s only going to hit the bacteria on the leaf surface. So, it’s not going to get into the plant and provide a long-term systemic protection. It’s just going to stop it from moving from Point A to Point B,” he said. “In my experience, it’s somewhat inconsistent – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and we don’t really understand why.”

UEP to eliminate the culling of male chickens; Organization seeks completion of plan by 2020

Published with permission from Poultry Times.  Originally printed on July 20, 2016.

Written by Barbara Olejnik

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The United Egg Producers, which represents approximately 95 percent of U.S. egg production, has committed to a goal of eliminating the culling of day-old male chicks by 2020 “or as soon as it is commercially available and feasible.”

Chad Gregory, UEP president and CEO, in a June 10 statement, said the UEP board approved and supports “the elimination of day-old male chick culling after hatch for the laying industry.”

Male chicks are culled because they are not useful to the egg industry. They cannot lay eggs and are not bred to grow large enough or quickly enough to be sold as meat.

Gregory pointed out, “We are aware that there are a number of international research initiatives underway in this area and we encourage the development of an alternative with the goal of eliminating the culling of day-old male chicks by 2020 or as soon as it is commercially available and economically feasible.

“The U.S. egg industry is committed to continuing our proud history of advancing excellent welfare practices throughout the supply chain and a breakthrough in this area will be a welcome development.”

The UEP announcement follows conversations with The Humane League, which urged the elimination of culling of male chicks.

The Humane League noted that one new technology developed by German scientists determines the sex of each fertilized egg before the chick inside develops.

The embryo-sexing technology, which should soon be available for commercial use in egg production, will enable the termination of all male-identified eggs from the hatchery, preventing them from ever being hatched or culled.

Researchers in the Netherlands are also working on technology that could identify the sex of a chicken on the ninth day of incubation. This would allow farmers to terminate males before they hatch.

Gregory noted that UEP and its farmer-members “have an obligation to study and adopt practices that improve animal welfare. Our members recognize that this extends to the practice of male chick culling at hatcheries, and as such, our board, at its May 2016 meeting, took a meaningful step forward to address this difficult issue.”

“United Egg Producer’s decision to end its support of culling baby male chicks is historic, as it will virtually eliminate this practice in the American egg industry,” said David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League.

“We are proud to have played such a pivotal role in doing away with this barbaric convention and to help pave the way to a more humane future. It is clear that chick culling will soon be a thing of the past in the United States,” Coman-Hidy added.

Salmonella in Retail Poultry Lowest Since FDA Began Testing; Positive Trends in Antimicrobial Resistance Continue

Published by permission from National Chicken Council.   Originally posted April 29, 2016.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released a new interim report that measures antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella isolated from raw retail meat and poultry collected through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). The 2014-2015 Retail Meat Interim Report contains data from January 2014 – June 2015.

NARMS focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine as well as multidrug resistance (described by the FDA as resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics). Under the NARMS program, samples are collected from humans, food producing animals and retail meat sources, and tested for bacteria to determine whether such bacteria are resistant to antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine.  This report  focuses only on Salmonella.

In many important categories, encouraging improvements found in 2011 continued to be evident in the latest data.

  • The prevalence of Salmonella in retail poultry is at its lowest level since testing began in 2002. In ground turkey, the prevalence of Salmonella has declined from a high of 19% in 2008 to 6% in 2014. In retail chicken over the same time period, it has dropped from 15% to 9%.
  • Salmonella resistance to ceftriaxone (an important antibiotic used to treat seriously ill patients) from chicken sources continued to decline steadily from a high of 38% in retail chicken meats in 2009 to 18% in 2014, and 5% during the first half of 2015. In ground turkey isolates, ceftriaxone resistance was detected in 7% of 2014 isolates and 4% of 2015 isolates collected through June, which represents an 80% decline since 2011 when resistance peaked at 22%.
  • Fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin are classified as critically important for the treatment of Salmonella infections. Ciprofloxacin resistance was absent in Salmonella from poultry and beef, although a single isolate was found in pork.
  • All Salmonella from retail meats were susceptible to azithromycin, another important antibiotic recommended for the treatment of Salmonella and other intestinal pathogens.
  • Multidrug resistance in Salmonella continued to show a downward drift in chicken and turkey from 2011 levels of 45% and 50%, respectively, to 20% and 36% in June 2015.

Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said the council was pleased to see many positive trends in the data continue, including a decrease in resistance in several foodborne pathogens, Salmonella being at the lowest levels since testing began, and that first-line antibiotics remain effective in treating illnesses. “Analyzing resistance patterns, as these reports do, is much more meaningful to public health outcomes than examining antibiotic sales data,” she said.

“Reports like this provide a strong case that the continued judicious use of antibiotics by poultry producers, coupled with ongoing strategies to reduce Salmonella, are aiding in the reduction of the pathogen and the reduction in resistance. Most chicken producers are well ahead of the December deadline to phase out medically important antibiotics for growth purposes.

“One thing consumers should remember is that all pathogens potentially found on raw chicken, regardless of strain or resistance profile, are fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165°F,” Peterson concluded.

BioSafe Systems to Open Production Facility in Michigan

BioSafe Systems announces the addition of a new production site in Coldwater, MI. This location will allow BioSafe Systems to manufacture, house and ship all BioSafe Systems’ peroxyacetic acid chemistries, including all EPA registered and OMRI listed products as well as FDA intervention products which comply with FCN #1501 and #1554, for the Meat & Poultry marketplace.

According to BioSafe Systems’ CEO Rob Larose, “This new production facility allows BioSafe Systems to create products closer to our customer base within the Great Lakes region and take advantage of the proximity to the Midwest market, which will help us better service our growers and customers.”

Set to open in 2017, the Coldwater location will also serve as a hub for the pick-up and distribution of bulk peroxyacetic acid deliveries within the East and West North Central Divisions.