A new antimicrobial wash for fresh fruit and vegetables that remains potent even when recycled is the subject of an international patent application by the United States of America jointly with the company Nature Seal.
An aqueous solution of hydrogen peroxide and one or more fruit acids, the wash is designed to reduce human pathogens, such as E.coli and salmonella, which are often culprits in food-borne illness.
According to the application recently published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the best results are achieved if lactic acid is included in the wash.
The application also says it is essentially free of ingredients found in earlier antimicrobial compositions, such as peroxyacetic acid, surfactants, carboxylic acid esters and other solvents in addition to water. In particular, it is free of “alcohols, both monohydric and polyhydric, as well as other oxygenated organic solvents.”
Wash water can be recycled for multiple batches of fresh produce
Furthermore, it’s claimed the wash remains highly effective in reducing microbial contamination of wash water which is recycled for reuse with multiple batches of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Typically, antimicrobial washes are applied to fresh fruits and vegetables via methods such as direct spraying, misting, fogging, curtain coating and immersion, with the antimicrobial wash reused on many subsequent batches of produce, the application says.
While washing fresh produce with water alone is normally enough to remove pathogens from produce surfaces, problems can arise if the water is reused.
“This is because the microbes removed from fruit or vegetables remain in this wash water where they rapidly increase and then contaminate the second and subsequent fruit or vegetables treated with the same wash water. So, in order for an antimicrobial wash to be effective in such processes in terms of reducing microbial contamination of multiple batches of fresh fruit or vegetables, the antimicrobial wash needs to contain enough antimicrobial agents to reduce the microbial contamination of this wash water over time,” it says.
Read the application here.