Importantly, Doyle said, the wash has no effects on smell, taste or appearance of the foods that are treated, even delicate produce. "The new product doesn't interfere with the shelf-life of sensitive foods," he said.
Like the original FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash now used at home by consumers and by food service industry, the new antimicrobial wash uses a combination of two inexpensive components that are safe for humans and the environment. The new FIT product also will be available as a spray and immersion solution for foods ranging from fragile leafy produce, fruits and vegetables, to more robust foods such as meats and poultry, or food preparation equipment and food transportation vehicles. For the greatest efficacy, the product is used at different concentrations and different periods of exposure for different applications.
FIT will replace chlorine as the new standard for reducing harmful bacteria levels in industrial settings, said Wichmann. Chlorine's drawbacks are multiple: it is toxic at high concentrations, it may produce off-flavors and undesirable appearance in certain food products; it can damage equipment; it can only be used, stored and transported in conjunction with specialized equipment and trained personnel; and because it may be harmful to the environment, it also is subject to environmental regulations. Chlorine may also damage certain seeds and delicate sprouts.
"We can't rely on chlorine any longer," Doyle said. "In addition to being safer and more acceptable in terms of appearance and smell, our studies have shown this new technology to be considerably more effective than chlorine." The product outperforms other food sanitization technologies, such as ozone, as well. Ozone, a short-lived gas, must be produced using specialized equipment immediately upon use, thus making its use inaccessible to the majority of companies in the food industry.
Gennaro Gama, a senior technology
|Contact: Terry Marie Hastings|
University of Georgia