Chlorine Dioxide System and Products
Spoilage is a major concern for fruit and vegetable packing operations. According to The Rockefeller Foundation, “an estimated 470 million smallholder farmers and supply chain actors across developing countries lose an average of 15 percent of their income to food spoilage.”
Food spoilage occurs for many reasons. Read on for information about the causes of spoilage and sanitation methods for prevention.
Causes of Post-Harvest Disease
Controlling post-harvest disease is a number one priority in reducing produce spoilage. Here are some insights on how post-harvest disease issues and where they come from.
Infected crop residue from previous harvests can be a feeding ground for bacteria. Crop rotation is necessary for preventing bacteria from feeding on produce hosts.
Two types of fungi act as pathogens that lead to disease in agriculture. Although they both produce rot, there are differences in their appearance and spread.
Mold is fuzzy and appears in a variety of colors. It has different shapes and can be seen on produce and in warm, damp areas.
Mold spores create rot in produce and can be unhealthy to humans. Mycotoxins formed from mold are toxic to humans and livestock and lead to many life-threatening ailments.
People with allergies and respiratory problems are at risk for breathing problems when exposed to mold.
This is a single-cell type of harvest mold. You can easily recognize yeast as white oval shapes. It can reduce produce to slime during post-harvest.
It can cause infections in humans, particularly those with weak immune systems.
Yeast breaks down carbohydrates and produces carbon dioxide. Carbonic acid is damaging to metal equipment used in agriculture.
Reducing the Spread of Pathogens
As the saying goes, “A few rotten apples will spoil the whole bunch”. Thus, reducing cross-contamination from infected produce is critical throughout the harvest and packing process.
As part of a comprehensive cleaning and sanitation program CH2O Inc.’s Fresh-Pak chlorine dioxide system and products have demonstrated effectiveness at reducing pathogens. Fresh-Pak products’ combination of oxidizing agents and exclusive detergents are highly effective in reducing pathogens and improving product marketability. With expanding organic and natural markets, CH2O, Inc. is constantly striving to formulate new products that comply with these strict standards, without sacrificing excellent cleaning and sanitizing results.
Sanitation of irrigation networks is important for controlling pathogens during the growth process. During the harvest, picking personnel may not notice pathogens on the surfaces of produce.
When pathogens are noticed, how are they disposed of? Diseased produce left to rot in the field has the potential to reinfect future crops.
Bruising and cracking during the harvest process will also open delicate skins prone to pathogens and infect healthy produce during shipping.
Wash water for cleaning produce must be fit for its intended use. Water treatment is necessary to remove soil and inhibit pathogen growth.
Proper selection of cleaning and sanitizing products help ensure consistent quality.
Produce that has been lost due to pathogens is usually noticed by workers when packing produce for shipping.
Conveyor belts and work surfaces can be a breeding ground for pathogens unless they are sanitized effectively. Biofilm present on produce can continue to spread into crevices of equipment making it difficult to remove.
During storage, keeping a cool and aerated environment is effective in inhibiting the growth of pathogens. Produce stored in warm and humid conditions will decay at a faster rate when exposed to bacteria and fungi.
It is also imperative that storage areas are clean and sanitary before use.
Transporting produce also requires care to reduce the spread of pathogens. Produce that has not been through an effective sanitation process is more susceptible to rot during the shipping phase.
Previously infected produce can release spores and bacteria in shipping trucks. Sanitation of vehicles reduces the spread of disease between shipments.
Chlorine vs Chlorine Dioxide
There are important advantages to chlorine dioxide as compared to chlorine compounds. You can read about their differences here:
Consult With a CH2O Representative
Founded in 1977, CH2O, Inc. is a leader in offering customized water treatment solutions that are environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
If this article has been informative and you are curious about how to reduce harvest food spoilage while retaining an environmentally friendly brand, speak with a CH2O professional today.