Integrated post-harvest wash systems for fruit and vegetable decontamination for reducing water usage and decrease emission of disinfectant byproducts in wastewater streams
The Canadian Food Guide has recommended an increase in fresh produce in the daily diet. Although the nutritional benefits of fresh produce are well established there are continuing food safety issues, high wastage and water consumption. To enhance safety and shelf-life it is common practice to pass produce through a post-harvest wash using chlorine as sanitizer. Chlorine is reactive and forms disinfection byproducts from constituents released from produce during washing. The byproducts are considered environmental pollutants but also has low antimicrobial activity. To counter this issue, processors use increasing concentrations of chlorine and large volumes of fresh water. The project will develop a water treatment that sequesters the chlorine reactive products thereby reducing the chlorine demand of wash water. This will enable lower volumes of both chlorine and water to be applied without losing antimicrobial activity. This will save the industry significant costs and also contribute to environmental sustainability.