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Fog Tunnel Treatment: A Food Safety Step for Produce Packers

April 03, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 212

Fresh fruit and vegetable packers have always been somewhat limited in how they can sanitize their product after their product has been harvested and before it is packed. The most common method of post harvest sanitation is to immerse the product in a dump tank or flume, or run the product over a series of rollers and have spray bars overhead. The dump tank and spray bars are injected with food-grade sanitizers to kill any lingering pathogens or spores that are on the product.

Though the above method of sanitation is a generally acceptable post harvest handling practice that is endorsed by many food safety auditing agencies, it is not without some faults. One of the primary challenges of any post harvest technology that involves the immersion of the product in a sanitizer, is that most sanitizers still require a potable water rinse, after the product has been sanitized. This rinse can reduce the time the sanitizer has to do its work of killing and preventing the growth of spores and pathogens. Furthermore, many products have to be dry when they are packed so after they have been sanitized, they go through an air dryer to remove any remaining wetness. This drying step can become an inoculation point where pathogens can get re-introduced to the surface of the product.

In contrast to the above, a Fog Tunnel treatment is a "dry" sanitation step that utilizes SaniDate 5.0, an OMRI listed sanitizer that does not have to be rinsed after it has been applied, as it leaves no detectable residues after drying. This allows for several significant benefits:

  1. Depending on fog density (which is entirely adjustable within the system), the product can remain exposed to the sanitizer for several minutes (even after it has gone through the fogging step). The sanitizer remains active until it fully evaporates, even long after it has been placed in a clamshell or corrugate packaging.
  2. The barely detectable moisture layer on the product (from the fog that is made up of consistently sized 4.2 micron fog droplets) does not cause unwanted moisture transfer to your packaging.
  3. Since the Fog Tunnel is a "dry" sanitation step, processors and packers can put this sanitation step on their production lines right before the product is placed in the package it will be shipped in. In other words, re-inoculation of pathogens is avoided because the next time the product is handled (in its raw form) after this final sanitation step is when it's in the hands of the customer.
  4. It gives producers of moisture susceptible fresh produce (that can't get wet during the packing process) an option for controlling post harvest diseases. Packers of fresh blueberries for instance did not have an effective post-harvest sanitation option in the past since blueberries must remain dry throughout the packing process. With the Fog Tunnel, blueberry packers can now have a preventative food safety step that eliminates human health pathogens and reduces fruit spoilage.

For packers of produce that want to ramp up food safety efforts while also preventing post harvest losses of freshly harvested produce, the Fog Tunnel is an innovative solution to consider. It's stainless steel enclosure is custom fabricated to fit a variety of widths, conveyor openings and table heights, allowing for integration into virtually any fresh pack production application.

The Fog Tunnel was the United Fresh 2010 Best New Processing Equipment winner. Find out more about how this innovative produce treatment system can modernize your operations & food safety program.

Source: EzineArticles
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