Research Proves FIT Fruit And Vegetable Wash Effectiveness
Vegetable Wash Effectiveness
New findings prove FIT Fruit and Vegetable Wash outperforms chlorine by killing 99.9999 percent of harmful bacteria in dirty processing water.
In the first test(1) of its kind, Washington State University and the University of Idaho's collaborative study tested the effectiveness of FIT versus chlorine dioxide to see whether either product provided a "kill step" of gram-negative bacteria (those associated with food- borne illnesses such as Salmonella and E.coli) in dirty flume water.
"We wanted to conduct a test under the most extreme conditions possible," said Jeff Kronenberg, food processing specialist at the University of Idaho and lead researcher involved in the study. Kronenberg said the methodology used in this study is much more realistic than other tests that focus on killing bacteria in pure, distilled water. Those in the industry know fresh pack potato operations present very challenging conditions since the flume water has a lot of soil. "Our tests proved that chlorine dioxide was largely ineffective against bacteria when used to treat dirty flume water. Conversely, FIT did not lose any effectiveness against killing gram-negative bacteria, regardless of water quality," Kronenberg stated.
Fresh, ready-to-eat produce has become a focal point in transmitting food- borne human pathogens including E.Coli, evidenced by last fall's massive outbreak and recall of bagged spinach. Typically, chlorine-based chemicals are used to sanitize produce. Consumer demand for more natural, "environmentally- friendly" alternatives has led the industry to utilize novel fresh produce treatments such as FIT. This new research shows that FIT is not only safer to use, it is also much more effective.
The University study was conducted through a potato packing operation trial and a separate in vitro test in the University laboratory to validate the results. Each test was repeated multiple times for confirmation. In both settings FIT outperformed chlorine by providing a "kill step" (99.9999 percent or "six-log" reduction) while chlorine killed only about 90 percent (one-log) of the bacteria in the dirty flume water. Due to the six-log reduction of pathogens in the flume water, the study confirmed FIT can be considered as a process kill step in controlling cross contamination, whereas chlorine dioxide would not be an effective Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) under the same dirty water conditions.
Currently most produce is washed in a chlorine source, either from bleach or from chlorine dioxide. However, these chemical compounds quickly deactivate and become ineffective in very dirty water, such as a potato or spinach flume. FIT's commercial produce wash helps overcome that problem when washing fresh cut and other processed produce. The ingredients in FIT, specifically its natural surfactants, act as "wetting agents" which are designed to lift off and kill the pathogens even in very dirty water. FIT is able to get into "nooks and crannies" that other washing systems may not and continues to keep killing bacteria via its patented surfactant technology.
FIT is made from all natural and every day food ingredients, such as citric acid and grapefruit oil. It rinses away clean and, unlike chlorine, leaves no aftertaste or smell. In fact, a separate Washington State University study(2) found that the use of FIT resulted in produce that could not be differentiated taste-wise by the panelists from produce washed with water. Todd Wichmann, chemical engineer and president of HealthPro Brands said FIT also is much safer for produce processors to use, since chlorine compounds can burn the skin and release dangerous chlorine gas to exposed workers.
Caruso, Inc.(R) a privately held, fresh food distribution and repack company based in Cincinnati, has already begun using FIT to wash its products and indicating such with a seal on their "Healthy Fresh" potato and yam products. Also, several grower/shippers are producing pre-packaged products displaying the FIT seal for retailers nationwide. They include Wada Farms LLC(R) based in Idaho Falls, Idaho which grows and packs a variety of potatoes (with the FIT seal) and Six L's Packing Company(R) based in Immokalee, FL which grows and packs a variety of tomatoes (containing the FIT seal). The seal states, "Pre-Washed in 100% Natural Fit. Chlorine Free."
"Pre-washing our produce in FIT gives our customers the peace of mind and food safety assurance they demand and expect from a 75 year old, family owned company," said Jeff Busch, executive vice president of Caruso, Inc. "While none of our Caruso branded produce has ever been affected by E.coli outbreaks, we are constantly trying to find additional ways to differentiate and add value to our product offerings."